Dr. Yao Graham, Coordinator of the Third World Network Africa (TWN-Africa), has called on the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) responsible for reforming Ghana’s operative mining regime to look beyond enhancing tax collection.

He said in addition to ensuring that mining companies pay the appropriate taxes, GNT should consider changing operative mining regimes in a manner that would ensure structural transformation and sustainable socio-economic development.

He made the call during a public forum organized by TWN-Africa themed: “Enhancing public knowledge and engagement in support of mining reforms and contracts renegotiations,” in Accra lately.

The forum brought together a group of 60 senior policy officials, civil society leaders, labour union leaders, researchers and community leaders, to discuss on-going mineral policy reforms and contracts renegotiation with the view of providing the necessary public support to these initiatives.

Dr. Graham said government in the past few years had introduced some policy initiatives with the aim of addressing various challenges in the mining sector. However, the lack of sufficient public discussions and engagements poses a threat to the attainment of the expected results.

“Since these reforms began, there have not been enough public discussions and engagements around them. This could lead to the reform processes not attaining the expected results.”

Explaining further, he noted that efforts by government were consistent with those of the African regional and continental bodies such as Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), which amplify the same concerns in the policy document ‘The African Mining Vision.’

He said that the document raises concerns over the low mining returns obtained by the African Continent, adding that Ghana and the continent at large deserves good returns from its mining sector

He called on the public to advocate changes in fiscal regime and renegotiation of mining contracts.

He observed that the old regime prioritizes foreign investments; hence the need for mining policy options and spaces to be defended from further erosion.

The new regime, he explained, will among other things renegotiate the royalties to be paid by the mining companies and give the number of years a mining concession can be leased out to a particular mining company.

The GNT team, headed by Professor Akilagpa Sawyerr, was inaugurated in January 2012 to renegotiate existing mining contracts widely seen to have failed in producing expected benefits to local stakeholders such as mining communities, the government and Ghanaians at large.

In a remark, Professor Sawyerr assured the audience that the review work would be consistent with Africa’s mining vision, which represents a paradigm shift towards gaining better returns from mining.

 By Jamila Akweley Okertchi