Privatise Tema Oil refinery for efficiency- Dr. Steve Manteaw

In an exclusive interview with Pulse Business, Dr. Manteaw bemoaned the phenomenon of politicians rewarding board positions on these public institutions to political foot soldiers.

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Co-Chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), Dr. Steve Manteaw has charged government to privatize non- performing public institutions like the Tema Oil Refinery.

This according to him will make the refinery much more efficient and profitable.

In an exclusive interview with Pulse Business, Dr. Manteaw bemoaned the phenomenon of politicians rewarding board positions on these public institutions to political foot soldiers.

" Over the years, government upon government have awarded management and board positions in institutions on the Tema Oil Refinery and other similar institutions to their political foot soldiers. These appointments are not based on experience or qualification. They are based on who campaigned for the ruling government during elections or who didn't."

The Tema Oil Refinery has been reeling under massive debt over the years, and has struggled to stay operational.

Though government announced in January that the refinery will begin operations again by the end of February 2016,  there are skepticism about its efficiency once it starts.

Dr. Manteaw believes that government needs to offload its ownership in Tema Oil Refinery on the Stock Exchange for private investors to buy.

" The solution is for government to relinquish ownership in the refinery, and leave shareholders to appoint a governing board and the management of the company. They will be in a much better position to fire management if they feel they are not working well enough"

On whether  the privatisation will not incur public wrath like in the case of Merchant Bank and the Agricultural Development Bank, Dr. Manteau said,

" No. The reason why people agitated against the sale of Merchant Bank and others was a lack of transparency. There was no transparency. But if this is done in a very transparent manner, it will rather court public support."

Dr. Manteaw cited the example of the privatisation of State Insurance Company and the privatisation of the Ghana Commercial Bank.

" When government floated its Ghana Commercial Bank shares on the Stock Exchange, it was completely oversubscribed. That was massive support for the privatisation of a public institution. Same for SIC. Ivestors had to be turned away because the IPO was over subscribed. This goes to show that if the process is done very well, and transparent enough, it will receive public support."

Pulse Business, also asked the Co-Chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), if leaving an essential institution like the Tema Oil Refinery in the hands of private investors will not cost fuel prices to skyrocket, Dr. Manteaw said the downstream petroleum sector is now a competitive market and is fair game for all players today.

" The downstream sector is no longer a monopoly that needs to guarded. There is enough competition to keep anyone in check, let's get it clear. In all the times that TOR has not been working, we have had people supplying refined crude haven't we? So there are enough players in the system today anyway. So the problem of exploitation will not happen"

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