sharing in governance of extractive industries
Dr. Juliette Twumasi-Anokye, a Consultant of the Petroleum Commission has noted that the mere disclosure and availability of information is meaningless if that information does not add up to the ultimate aim of accountability. She asked of what benefit that huge information will be, if it does not make duty bearers accountable and punitive measures imposed on them to deter future offenders. Only when sanctions applied will discourage people and make them accountable.
In addition, incentives for persons who also ensure accountability is upheld and enforced for social good must be recommended. She made these observations in a two-day seminar over the weekend for Institute of Financial and Economic journalists (IFEJ) in Koforidua. The two –day programme sponsored by Giz and SECO is a two-year training programme aimed at building the capacity of participants in extractives reporting.
On the topic “the Challenge of Accountability in a Complex Regulatory System”, Dr. Twumasi reminded the gathering that Transparency and Accountability are not one and the same. She maintained that while transparency focuses on openness, accountability aims at answerability of duty bearers. And sanctions should be prescribed to follow otherwise transparency is of no use. The challenge with accountability is that someone has to be held answerable for whatever happens. But that is not what happens as she has observed citing examples.
The reporters -Ifej members in a group photo here in Ghana
With a case study to illustrate her point, she explained that where enforcement of accountability laws are weak, the social accountability aspect must apply as every duty bearer has a social contract with the people and such wrong doers should not be allowed to remain at post. Answerability is the ultimate in accountability coupled with enforced sanctions that serves as the incentives. She challenged the reporters to dig deeper to investigate into the information’s that are normally made available to them and that often there is more to it than the mere availability of volumes of papers.
Types of Accountability
The Consultant explained that accountability cuts across horizontal, vertical, diagonal, economic and social lines and each has a specific area of operation that collectively produces the needed results in the fight against graft. Dr. Twumasi-Anokye stressed the collectivness of all these facets of accountability for answerability.
Perceptively, she noted that it is essential to have all the above cross-cutting accountability sides held up in the extractive industry as resources from that sector are finite and depleting as we have witnessed in some parts of the country. The importance of sanctions as part of accountability in all its forms must be enforced for social good. She noted that Ghana as a nation must not forget that she is negotiating with investors who have been in this business for years and have accumulated high level experiences that come to bear on negotiations.
Further, confidentiality as an excuse not to be transparent enough and deliberately bring volumes of paper work cannot be serious and that “ blanket non-disclosure” will not stand the test of time as some portions can be subjected to negotiations.
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