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Chamber of Mines Dispute Offshore Account Claims   
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The Ghana Chamber of Mines has disputed claims that offshore accounts maintained by the mining companies are the cause of the irregular supply of foreign currency on the local market.

The chamber maintains that more than sixty per cent of the profits of mining companies are kept with the Bank of Ghana and some local banks.

Acting Chief Executive Officer of the chamber, Mr Sulemana Koney, told the Graphic Business in an interview that mining companies have kept between 60 to 70 per cent of their proceeds with the central bank and local financial institutions.

Bank of Ghana had at recent news conference in Accra proposed to the government for the renegotiation of mining contracts that will compel firms operating in the oil and mining sectors in Ghana to keep part of their profits in the country.

“The mining companies keep some offshore accounts because most of their supply and purchases or business are done in foreign currency, which is why they maintain some offshore accounts but apart from that, they mostly maintain an onshore account with the Bank of Ghana,” he said.

The Minerals Commission has also confirmed that mining companies maintain their large parts of the accounts onshore and maintain an onshore account for foreign supplies.

“Though the law permits them to keep offshore accounts, they mostly keep their accounts with the Bank of Ghana and the commercial banks,” Minerals Commission Chief Executive, Dr Tony Aubyn, said in an interview.

“They have retention accounts they use for salaries and other supplies, so even though the law allows them to keep offshore accounts, it is not practical to do so,” he said.

Under existing rules, these firms are allowed to keep almost all of their profits in offshore accounts.

The Central Bank said it would recommend to the government to change the policy.

The bank expects to use the new policy as a means to ensure regular and adequate supply of foreign currency on the local market.

The bank also wants to push some government agencies to keep their foreign exchange proceeds from project funds with the Bank of Ghana instead of keeping them in offshore accounts.

The banking regulator is also taking steps towards networking all banks and forex bureaux to capture the foreign exchange flows and eliminate any abuse.

It is also working to promote the culture of using debit and credit cards to address the high demand for dollars by businesses and individuals.
Source: Graphic Online

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