THE MINISTRY of Finance on Wednesday held separate virtual meetings with the Social Partnership Council (SPC) and the leadership of faith-based organizations (FBOs) as part stakeholder engagement and consultation to deepen understanding on the Agyapa Minerals Royalty deal.
It comes in the wake of increasing concern expressed by some civil society organisations (CSOs) for the government to place the citizen at the centre of policy making considerations, not just as a target, but also as an agent.
The SPC is made up of the labour unions, Ghana Employers Association and government, represented by the Ministries of Finance and Employment and Labour Relations, while the FBOs include the Catholic Bishops Conference, Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, National Associations of Charismatic and Christian Churches and the Ghana Charismatic Bishops Conference.
A statement signed and released by the Ministry’s Public Relations Unit said the issues discussed included the nature and benefits of the transaction, ownership, transparency and domain of registration.
Others, the statement added, were initial valuation, future prospects as well as the need “to continue to engage with all stakeholders to get their buy in and support.”
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, in his opening remarks, provided the background to the Agyapa programme and explained the need for Ghana to take advantage of the current time because of the high gold prices in spite of the prevailing tighter financing conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr. Ofori-Atta highlighted the weaknesses in the current framework for managing the country’s mineral royalties which did not allow for the targeted use of and accounting for mineral royalties.
He also explained that “the current framework limits the benefits that Ghana derives from its mineral resources; and pointed out that despite centuries of mining and exporting gold, the mining communities had not seen or benefited in a material way nor had there been any major development in these areas.”
The Finance Minister said the Minerals Income and Investment Fund (MIIF) which owned Agyapa, was 100 per cent Ghanaian until it was listed on the London and Ghana Stock Exchanges, where government planned to sell up to 49% shares via an initial public offer (IPO).
Mr. Ofori-Atta was reported as saying the shares would be dual listed on the London and Ghana Stock Exchanges, and explained that registering the entity in Jersey, the Channel Islands, was very well intentioned, given that a number of international companies, including Tullow and Vodafone that were listed on the London Stock Exchange were all registered in Jersey.
He also said a listing on the London Stock Exchange would ensure that Agyapa Royalty would be required to abide by the highest standards when it came to corporate governance and reporting requirements amongst others.
Members of the council and FBOs, on their part, also admonished the government to broaden the engagements and maybe consider providing the presentation in local languages so that more Ghanaians would understand.
A group calling itself an Alliance for Civil Society Organizations working on extractives, anti-corruption and good governance has been protesting, claiming that some elements in the government had ‘huge’ interests in the whole deal but could not name those with the ‘interests’.
By Ernest Kofi Adu