British government commends passage of oil bill in Ghana

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Britain's Africa Development Minister Stephen O'Brien on Friday commended Ghana's passage of an oil revenue bill saying the move will enhance transparency in the management of income from oil.

"The passage of the Petroleum Management Bill by Ghana lawmakers shows Ghana's commitment to ensuring efficient use of resources from the oil sector," he said said during a meeting with Ghana's Vice President John Dramani Mahama.

"The economic gains made by Ghana need to be lauded. We are very keen to working with Ghana to ensure that gains made on the economic front are sustained," O'Brien said.

"A review conducted by the British government on developing countries with bilateral and multinational ties with the UK shows that Ghana's economic indicators are pointing to the right direction," he said.

The oil wealth will be invested in the national power grid, to improve roads and the water supply network as well as to build a deep sea oil port and to revamp railway lines, President John Atta-Mills said earlier this year.

The legislation also allows the government to use the 70 percent allocated for the budget as collateral for loans.

"The government of Ghana will ensure that revenue from the oil sector shall be used to benefit of Ghanaians," Mahama stated.

"With good collaboration and cooperation between the two countries, Ghana should be able to manage oil revenue effectively, harness other potentials and build the capacity of Ghanaians to manage the country's resources," he added.

O'Brien is on a three-day tour of the west African country to review progress being made by Britain's development programme. He leaves Ghana on Saturday.

Ghana began large-scale oil production in December from an oil field known as Jubilee -- one of the largest recent discoveries in West Africa.

Output is currently around 70,000 barrels per day but is due to rise to 120,000 barrels by next month.

The oil revenue law, passed in March, allows the government to use 70 percent of its oil revenues to support its budget, while 30 percent is saved in a special "Heritage and Stabilisation" fund.

Oil is projected to become Ghana's biggest foreign exchange earner, upstaging the gold, cocoa and timber exports it previously relied on.

© 2011 AFP

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