Suspend Agyapa deal; it isn’t enough to trust your sincerity, expertise – CSOs

The Alliance of CSOs Working on Extractive, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance has called for the suspension of the controversial Agyapa deal pending further dialogue on some critical issues concerning the mineral royalties monetisation agreement.

At a press conference on Tuesday, 8 September 2020, the spokesperson for the coalition, Dr Steve Manteaw, said: “The provision in Section 28(5) of the Mineral Income Investment Fund Act seeks to declassify royalties as taxes and make it a revenue stream for the MIIF and by extension, Agyapa. Exempting Agyapa from taxes, does not exempt government alone, but also the investors.

“This is the more reason the government should not exempt Agyapa from taxes and failure to do so, only benefits the investors.

“In considering Agyapa, what becomes of the government’s manifesto promise to increase royalty share to mining-affected communities”, he pointed out to journalists.

According to him, “in the government’s 2016 manifesto, it stated that: ‘With regard to mineral royalties, the NPP’s policy is to ensure that mining communities receive a higher share of the royalties. Currently, 80 per cent of the royalties go to the government, 10 per cent to the Minerals Commission and 10 per cent to the community. The NPP will reduce government’s share to 70 per cent while doubling community share to 20 per cent. The additional 10 per cent to the community, would be given to the district assembly, to be used specifically for developing infrastructure in the mining community’”.

“How the government is responding to this promise is missing from its effort through the MIIF and the related Agyapa transaction”, Dr Manteaw wondered.

He noted that: “These are important questions that require a national conversation to be addressed”.

“It is not enough for the minister of finance or the government to ask the citizens to trust their sincerity and their expertise.

“It will not be right for them to try and bulldoze through a controversial transaction such as this and about which genuine questions have been raised by experts as well as by ordinary Ghanaians.

“We are, therefore, reiterating our call to the government to suspend the implementation of this transaction pending dialogue on options available to optimise Ghana’s mineral royalties”, he demanded.

Parliament, a few weeks ago, in line with the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) Act, 2018 (Act 978), approved agreements to allow the country to derive maximum value from its mineral resources and monetise its mineral income accruing to the country in a sustainable and responsible manner.

The move gives Agyapa Royalties Limited the right to secure about $1 billion to enable government finance large infrastructural projects.

Already, the deal has been criticised by the opposition National Democratic Congress, which accused the government of mortgaging the country’s mineral resources.

NDC flagbearer John Mahama, for instance, has said the architects of the Agyapa Royalties deal are cronies of President Nana Akufo-Addo and hinted at cancelling the agreement should he win the 7 December 2020 polls.

“If I become president, I will not accept that deal”, he threatened.

According to him, “the people of Ghana do not accept that deal” since, in his view, “it is against the money laundering rules”.

“If you look at the people who put this together, they are people close to the president and already they have been paid two million dollars”, the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress claimed.

“This president and his family think they can do anything and get away with it,” Mr Mahama said.

Also, the President of the National House of Chiefs, Togbe Afede XIV, recently said he does not see why the Agyapa Royalties deal should be shrouded in secrecy.

Addressing the Volta Regional House of Chiefs at which meeting he took strong exception to attempts to associate him personally as well as the National House of Chiefs to the controversial minerals monetisation deal, Togbe Afede XIV said: “I, in particular, I’m very much hurt by the attempt to use my name to grant legitimacy to a transaction that has been widely condemned for its secrecy and for the fact that the company involved was incorporated in a tax haven”.

“I do not see why desperation would lead anybody associated with that transaction to want to use the name of the innocent Togbe Afede XIV. I have never commented on this transaction and I have decided not to comment for good reasons,” he stated.

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