Prince William Ankrah
MEMBERS OF the Ghana Mineworkers Union (GMWU) have thrown their weight behind the Akufo-Addo Administration’s decision to engage the Chinese government in a $2 billion bauxite barter deal.
Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, told lawmakers in Parliament in July this year whilst presenting the mid-year budget review that Sinohydro Group Limited, is expected to “provide $2 billion of infrastructure including roads, bridges, interchanges, hospitals, housing, rural electrification, in exchange for Ghana’s refined bauxite.”
He indicated at the time that a bauxite refinery would also be established within the next three years in collaboration with selected private partners with 30 percent local participation.
According to him, “Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure this august House that the $2 billion of infrastructure to be provided by Sinohydro would not add to the debt stock and will involve a moratorium period of three (3) years to give Ghana the time to establish an aluminum refinery. After [the] moratorium period, Ghana will fulfill its part of the barter agreement over another 12-year period.”
DAILY GUIDE learnt that over 60 projects nationwide comprising roads, classroom blocks and office complexes are expected to benefit from the first phase of the initiative.
President Akufo-Addo on August 30, traveled to the People’s Republic of China where he is expected to sign for the money with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
There has been agitations from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) over the move, which has triggered the Minority in Parliament led by Haruna Iddrisu to report the Ghanaian Government to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
But the Ghana Mineworkers Union at its mid-year National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting recently in Accra, said considering the glaring infrastructure deficit being witnessed across the country, the money shall go a long way to fix some of the basic economic crisis.
General Secretary of the Mineworkers Union of Trades Union Congress of Ghana, Prince William Ankrah, in a statement at the meeting stressed that “Given the glaring infrastructure deficit witnessed everywhere in the country, it is the view of the Union that the amount will go a long way to fix some of the basic economic infrastructure like the railway system, major roads/highways, airports etc, the country urgently needs to spur economic growth and transformation.”
However, he urged government to “thread cautiously because of the environmental impact and cost associated with the deal and as a result must engage thoroughly and accommodate the different shades of opinion on the issue before the deal is finalized.”
Commenting on government’s decision to lift the ban on small scale mining, Mr. Ankrah said although public opinion appears to be divided over the decision, what is critical, in the view of the Union, is that the small-scale miners should be properly streamlined and regulated with systems and structures to provide a proper decoupling between small scale mining and illegal mining or ‘galamsey’.
According to him, “Given the colossal damage the actors in the informal subsector of the industry inflicted on the environment and the cost incurred in reclaiming it, we can no longer continue to gamble with their activities by relegating their regulation to the background.”
“We commend government for the political will shown on this matter and urge it not to, at any time, sacrifice this critical role of protecting the environment on the altar of political expediency,” he said.
Mineral Development Fund
He, however, revisited the Mineral Development Fund discussions, saying the Union has over the last decade brought the current deplorable state of mining communities in the country to the fore on many of its platforms.
According to him, “however, nothing or very little appear to have been done regarding the transformation urgently needed.
“The recent Ahafo mining community uprising against some of the companies involving both workers and community members, signifies the likely consequences certain to erupt should the stakeholders particularly government turn a blind eye and deaf years to this critical need.”
BY Melvin Tarlue