BY MUNTALLA INUSAH
THE GHANA National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) and the Ghana Mineworkers Union have raised concerns about the Development and Tax Concession Agreement between the Government of Ghana and AngloGold Ashanti Limited and described the deal as “terrible and bad.”
According to NCOM, based on the grounds fully set out in the Memorandum of Understanding, the main recommendation of NCOM to the joint committee is that the two agreements in their present form should be rejected.
At a news conference in Accra ahead of the re-opening of AngloGold Ashanti, Mr Yao Graham, Coordinator of Third World Network-Africa, on behalf of NCOM, said the agreement, which is yet to receive parliamentary ratification, is terribly bad and ought to be revised.
He said the contents of the agreement reflect inadequate engagement by the government with key domestic business and civic constituencies such as labour unions and affected communities.
He said they doubted if the perspectives of relevant Ghanaian producers were taken into account before the various clauses on the local content, including the massive waiver of import duties, were agreed upon.
The coordinator said clause 12.2 of the Development Agreement has a very sweeping provision against disclosures of a broad range of information pertaining to the contracts or AngloGold Ashanti operations and therefore the confidentiality provision as it stands is too broad and not time-bound.
Justification for rejection
He said the principal ground for recommending the rejection of the two agreements is that the legal authority to make fiscal concessions to a holder of a mining lease is set out under section 48 of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703).
Secondly, the only fiscal concession that can be made under that provision is to freeze (stabilise) current fiscal obligations; therefore, the law does not give the minister the power to waive or reduce fiscal obligations.
“Parliament does not have the power on its own motion to waive or vary taxes. Under Article 174 (2) of the constitution it can do so only by approving the exercise of a power to waive or vary taxes by a person or authority vested with the legal power to do so.”
The deputy general secretary of the Ghana Mineworkers Union, Abdul Moomin Gbana, said the union made recommendations to the joint committee on Mines and Energy and Finance of Parliament to aid in its work before the ratification of the Development and Tax Concession Agreement by Parliament.
He said “the union proposes that the development agreement clearly specifies the details of items that cannot be procured locally to be submitted to the Minerals Commission and a plan of action to realise the provision as part of efforts to ensure full beneficiation of the mining value chain.”
Source: www.dailyheritage.com.gh/Muftaw Mohammed