Government has indicated the implementation of the Extractive Industries and Transparency Initiative (EITI) has brought enormous benefits to the country: hence it wants to make it binding On all relevant players of the industry through the enactment of a law to that effect.
A Deputy Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kweku Rickets-Hagan, made this disclosure at an international stakeholder meeting in Accra last week, which had in attendance Board Members of the international EITI led by Eddie Rich, Deputy Head and Regional Director for Africa and Middle East of the EITI.
“The EITI is not a fanciful exercise designed to please development partners and to enhance the international image of Ghana but it is a thought through exercise meant toenhance the development outcomes of natural resources exploitation in this country,” Mr Rickets-Hagan noted, adding, “We have, and continue to explore ways of making the exercise respond to the deve¬lopment aspirations of our people.”
According to him, besides the implementation of the EITI, the Ghana Government has joined the Open Governance Partnership and pledged to open up the mining and oil and gas sector for greater transparency.
He observed that Ghanaians were very passionate when it came to the issue of the natural resources because “we have all seen and read about many countries that have used these resources to significantly trans¬form their economics and invest *in infrastructure, institutions and quality public services needed to translate growth into development.”
Dr Toni Aubynn, the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Chamber of Mines, submitted that EITI was about communication and therefore the issues, that arose out of the publications on reconciliation were very important and had to be addressed.
Dr Aubynn recalled that in the early years of implementation, discussions on EITI reports centered on the inadequacy of” government receipts from the mining industry. However, when the mining companies got into full production, covered their capital allowances, paid corporate taxes in addition to mineral royalties, the tone of deliberations changed in the light of the significant fiscal contributions of the mining industry to the economy.
Dr Steve Manteaw, Chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, stated that through the advocacy of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the extractive sector has witnessed enormous transparency. He said, for example, corporate income tax of mining firms has increased from 25% to 30%.
Dr Manteaw noted that the diversity of interests of stakeholders was that, while the companies were concerned with maximising shareholder value, government has often been concerned with using revenues from ‘the mining sector to address short-term fiscal challenges, and that the only group that has had the long term national interest in focus is civil society. According to him, the major benefit of EITI has been that, it has afforded the space and opportunity to negotiate these diverse interests and to ensure that the dividends from mining are equitably shared between the host country and the companies.
Mr Eddie Rich was optimistic about the success of EITI in Gnana and added that a lot more countries were buying into it. He said currently, about 39 countries have signed unto it.
The EITI is an international initiative between government, companies and civil society groups to promote transparency in the flow of revenues from extractive companies to host country governments based on a set of criteria for transparent reporting on the revenue streams and other benefits.
Source: Public Agenda
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