Civil society organisations in Ghana are calling for the establishment of an independent oversight body to track mineral revenue in the country following the controversy surrounding the Agyapa Royalties deal.
Such a body, the CSOs say, will replicate the role being played by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) in tracking revenue from the country’s petroleum resources.
A group of 15 civil society organisations last week called on President Akufo-Addo to suspend the Agyapa agreement until all documents relating to the deal are made public.
Failure to account
In an interview with Kojo Mensah on The Asaase Breakfast Show on Thursday, the spokesman for the civil society groups, Steve Manteaw, said they are not against monetising Ghana’s mineral resources.
“This is a government that has failed to account for GHC1.5 billion of oil revenue entrusted into its care, even with an oversight body like PIAC,” he explained.
“So, we have a situation where we don’t have adequate checks and balances within the law,” he said, “and we are giving out our mineral royalties to be managed through a scheme that we all do not understand. So we are asking the ministry to come again.”
Dr Manteaw wants the government to open up the scope of consultations to ensure it factors in the concerns of all parties in the deal.
Hallmark of democracy
He described the invitation extended to civil society groups by the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, so that there could be deliberation over their concerns, as a hallmark of democracy, citizen participation and the right to be heard.
“It is great progress that the Ministry of Finance invited us to a meeting to discuss our concerns and there is a certain acceptance of our request for further consultations,” he said.
“We, for our part, appreciate the particular difficulty the Minister for Finance faces. He sees an opportunity that gold prices are at an all-time high of $2,000 an ounce, so this is the time to strike and get the best for your country. And you need to balance that with consultations and how much time you have left such that even after consultation you will not come back and miss the opportunity.”
Manteaw said despite the fruitful discussions, they still believe that the deal is fraught with lapses of governance which must be addressed urgently.
This coming week, the CSOs will begin a huge education drive to sensitise the public in connection with the Agyapa Royalties deal.
“Our next plan going forward in terms of strategy is that we are going to the ground, the community, the regions. We are going to educate and mobilise the people to mount pressure on the government to do what is right for this country,” Dr Manteaw told The Asaase Breakfast Show.
“We are prepared to take this campaign to whatever height we can to ensure we right the wrong in this deal.”
The income investment agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Minerals Income Investment Fund, Agyapa Royalties Ltd and ARG Royalties Ltd centres around transactions to monetise gold royalties, entered into under the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act 2018 (Act 978)
The target is for the arrangement, once executed, to make immediately available US$500 million to the Ghanaian Treasury, with another $500 million to follow.