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Despite the environmental degradation being caused by mining companies, and the subsequent effect on the national economy, the state has given up the right to dividends from the exploitation of gold in the country.

For all the problem of hosting these gold mining companies, with degradation of our forests and pollution of our water bodies, Ghana has had only 10 percent shares in concessions handed out to these mainly foreign conglomerates.

Information available to The Chronicle indicates that Parliament has allegedly signed away the right to this paltry 10 percent dividend. This is contrary to the Mining law 1986 (PNDC law 153) and the Minerals and Mining Act 206 (Act703), which mandate the government to acquire ten percent (10%) rights and obligations of minerals operations in Ghana.

Ghana, currently, holds zero percent (0%) shares in the Newmont Ahafo and Akyem Projects, Noble Mineral Resources Bibiani Project, AngloGold Ashanti, Ashanti (Obuasi) and Iduaprim and Teberebie projects. In effect, the foreign mineral companies are digging our gold for free.

The decision follows the ratification of these mining agreements between the affected companies and the government by Parliament. The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, who is not happy with the development, has written a letter to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, complaining about the development, and seeking legal opinion as to whether the decision could be reversed.

The Finance Minister argued in his letter that though Article 268 of the Constitution grants Parliament the authority to ratify agreements relating to natural resources, nowhere in the Constitution is Parliament given the added power to ratify agreements that contradict the laws of the country.

Dr. Duffuor quoted the Directive Principles of State enshrined in the Constitution, and argued that Parliament, at all times, must act, subject to the laws of the country. In fact, under Economic Objectives, Article 36 (4) places an onus on the state to ensure that foreign investments shall be encouraged within Ghana, subject to any law for the time being, in force regulating investment in Ghana, Duffuor noted in his letter to the Attorney General.

The Kumawu-born Finance Minister noted that the state of Ghana was losing a lot of revenue as a result the parliamentary ratification of the mining agreements between the aforementioned companies that seem in apparent contradiction of the laws of the country.

Your opinion and advice on this matter will, therefore, be greatly appreciated, particularly, if the state can legally take steps to rectify the current status, concludes Dr. Duffuors letter.

Efforts made by the editorial team in Accra to get Dr. Kwabena Duffuor to comment on the letter, has so far proved futile. After several calls to his cellular phone, which were not answered, a text message was sent to him identifying the caller, as calling from The Chronicle, and that the paper wanted to crosscheck information with him, but he again, did not respond when another call was put through to him.

Attempts made by the paper to also ascertain from the Majority Leader, Mr. Cletus Avoka, whether Parliament had indeed ratified the said agreement that has deprived Ghana of the 10 percent dividend from the mining companies, were also not successful.

The Minority Leader, Mr. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, responded to our call, but indicated that he was attending to a family bereavement in Kumasi, and directed The Chronicle to speak to some of the Minority members on the committee, responsible for Land and Natural Resources.

Mr. Edward Ennin, Member of Parliament for Obuasi, who serves on the committee, told The Chronicle that he had not seen any such agreement to that effect, and that maybe the executive might be contemplating the issue, but it had not been brought to Parliament yet.
Source: The Chronicle

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