Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is shocked after discovering mining agreements signed by government and ratified by Parliament are heavily skewed to favour mining companies.
Members of the Committee are amazed that up to a 100% of earnings from gold mined in Ghana is lodged in offshore accounts. And all these transactions are backed by Ghana’s law.
This was revealed during the first public sitting of the committee, Monday.
Explaining matters on Joy News, Ben Aryee, Chief Executive of the Mineral's Commission said the Minerals and Mining Law 1986, PNDC Law 153 provided that retention accounts agreement be signed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic planning, Bank of Ghana and an applicant mining firm.
He said in the course of time, government passed a new mineral and mining law 2006 which amended the previous law to in some cases allow 20% of the earning to be kept onshore. The Chief Executive says Parliament itself must take the blame.
But, the parliamentarians are stunned that Newmont Mining Corporation could sign an agreement with government to take 100% of its earnings offshore – an advantage no other mining company enjoys.
An MP wondered how one of these retention agreements was signed on 17th December 2003 and ratified by Parliament on 23rd December 2003 – just five days. He said under the Parliamentary system, this was curious.
Another MP said he “was shocked that Parliament could pass such as Act”. Akim Abuakwa South and vice-chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Atta Akyea, described the regime as “Pernicious, arbitrary, discriminatory, [and] weird.”
Speaking on Joy News, Hannah Owusu Koranteng of Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) said she was glad that MPs are worried about the current agreements that heavily inure to the benefit of mining companies.
She said there are a lot of gaps in the current Mining and Minerals Act and urged parliamentarians to review the Act.
She said section 5 subsection 4 &5 of the mining act 2006 gives Parliament the power to approve these contracts. It reads: (4) A transaction contract or undertaking involving the grant of a right or concession by or on behalf of a person or body of persons, for the exploitation of a mineral in Ghana shall be subject to ratification by Parliament.
(5) Parliament may, by resolution supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of Parliament, exempt from the provisions of subsection (4) of this section a particular class of transaction,contract or undertakings.
She wondered how a mining company can retain 100% earning while 100% damages to the environment are left to the mining community to deal with.
Water bodies have been rendered useless to communities, land that could be used for agriculture have been destroyed because of activities of mining companies
She said Ghanaians are not privy to these agreements because they are confidential. She recommends that earning should be capped at 50%.