Ghana needs to establish a Mineral Revenue Fund to provide an endowment to support development for future generations and to sustain public expenditure capacity when mining reserves have been depleted.
Dr Toni Aubynn, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, who made the recommendation on Tuesday, stressed that the mining sector needed the Fund to shore up mining reserves during periods of unanticipated revenue shortfalls and when resources were depleted.
He was speaking at the Ghana Chamber of Mines’ Third Mining for Development Forum organised in Accra.
Dr Aubynn said the Mineral Revenue Fund should work like the Ghana Petroleum Fund which consists of the Ghana Heritage Fund and the Ghana Stabilization Fund established in the oil and gas industry to support development for future generations when petroleum reserves have been depleted and to cushion the impact on or sustain public expenditure capacity during periods of unanticipated petroleum revenue shortfalls.
Other recommendations made by Dr Aubynn include: the establishment of a tax credit scheme for the mining sector, an open and regular strategic dialogue with players in the mining industry and measures to expand the economic “pie” through incentives rather than increased taxation.
He also recommended that the National Mining Vision which had been initiated by the current political regime should be speedily implemented.
Dr Aubynn raised concerns over the lack of local ownership of a major mine in the sector and said the country needed to push for increased transparency in the extractive sector to ensure that revenue accrued was distributed equitably.
He rated Ghana as excellent in terms of geographical prospects saying opportunities remained to be exploited in some natural resources including kaolin, salt, clay, marble, mica, iron ore and limestone.
Dr Aubynn said the Western, Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Volta, Eastern and Northern Regions were such prospective places that such natural resources could be mined.
Dr Edward Larbi-Siaw, a Tax Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Finance, said the lack of transparency and the need for incentives to reform the extractive industry’s value chain had contributed to the current state of affairs.
He explained that though the mining sector accounted for more than 23.5 per cent of direct taxes in 2010, the economic and social benefits that the sector provided was not commensurate with the expectations for the sector.
Dr Larbi-Siaw said environmental degradation by operators in the mining sector had been raised as the cost to the country and expressed the view that the state’s receipts from the mining sector were not enough.
Mr Sulemanu Koney, Director of Analysis, Research and Finance at the Ghana Chamber of Mines, said the Mining for Development Forum provided the platform to showcase and to discuss the strategic partnerships that existed between the mining industry and government to reposition mining as a tool for socio-economic transformation.
He said it was also to address the public’s quest for information, the absence of which had fuelled negative perceptions about mining.
The forum was also to inform and stimulate discussions on the prospects of mining as a catalyst for development.
On the significant contribution the mining sector plays in the socio-economic development of the country, Mr Koney said “to put this in perspective, a report from the Bank of Ghana indicates that the mining industry’s contribution to total merchandise export earnings was about 42 per cent in 2012”, he said.
Mr Koney said “the Ghana Revenue Authority has stated that the mining sector contributed GH˘1.5 billion, representing about 27 per cent of its domestic tax collections” adding that the internal data of the Chamber also revealed that the industry returned more than 72 per cent of its revenue to the country in the same period.
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