BY DANIEL KWESI ADU
As though we were not blessed enough with all our abundant mineral resources such as gold and diamond, we recently discovered that the Big Man above had also blessed us with oil. What we wish and pray for is for us not to end up like many other oil producing countries. Despite the benefits derived from the possession of this mineral, there are many downsides to it thus the saying “every advantage comes along with a disadvantage too”. Nigeria has its own share of the various problems associated with oil; Libya on the other hand is no exception.
By Grace, Ghana has not yet experienced any of these problems until quite recently. I use the word yet because from the way we happen to be going about the management of our oil, it is so evident that the worse is yet to come. If only we had paid attention to the advise of the Norwegians we would not have to be living in fear of contracting this disease referred to as the Dutch Disease. Government earnings from oil for the first eight months of the year 2013 rose above the end year target while that of cocoa and gold have slumped, further intensifying fears that the country is inching closer to the much dreaded Dutch Disease.
Our country budgeted to collect GH 1.12 billion from oil in 2013 however the eight-month period earnings of GH 1.15 billion meant that the country had already exceeded its end of year target from petroleum by about 2.68 percent according to the Minister of finance and Economic Planning ( MoFEP ) , Mr. Seth Terkper. Although this is a positive development for the nation, it is important to note that this development comes at a time period where there are shortfalls in total revenue and grants resulting mainly from delayed disbursement of grants from our development partners and lower than anticipated domestic tax collections.
These together with rising expenditures, have put government budget off gear while reigniting the debate on the existence or otherwise of the Dutch Disease. This disease is an economic ailment that boosts growth in the petroleum sectors of oil rich countries causing them to limit investments and attentions to non-oil sectors such as cocoa and gold. This often leads to a contraction in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors as well.