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Finance Ministry broadens consultation on Agyapa deal

Ken Ofori-Atta steps up consultations on the management of Ghana’s gold wealth with civil society groups – from labour unions to employers to churches

The Ministry of Finance has stepped up its consultation on the Agyapa Royalties agreement in a bid to gather concerns of all stakeholders.

That is because it has held separate virtual meetings with the Social Partnership Council (SPC) and the leadership of faith-based organisations (FBOs) in line with its stakeholder engagement and consultations drive to deepen the understanding of the Agyapa Royalties transaction.

The Social Partnership Council is made up of labour unions, the Ghana Employers’ Association and the government, represented by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations.

Seeking buy-in

The faith-based organisations included the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Christian Council of Ghana, the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, the National Association of Charismatic and Christian Churches (NACCC) and the Ghana Charismatic Bishops’ Conference.

The issues discussed included the nature and benefits of the transaction, ownership, transparency and domain of registration, initial valuation, future prospects as well as the need to continue to engage with all stakeholders to get their buy-in and support.

In his opening remarks, Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister for Finance, described the background to the Agyapa programme and the need to take advantage of the current all-time high price of gold despite tighter financing conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He highlighted the weaknesses in the current framework for managing our mineral royalties, which does not allow for targeted use of and accounting for mineral royalties. The minister also explained that the current framework limits the benefits that Ghana derives from its mineral resources.

High standards

Ofori-Atta remarked that despite centuries of mining and exporting gold, Ghana’s mining communities have not derived great wealth or benefited in any material way from the gold business. Nor has there been any major development in these areas, he said.

The minister explained that the Minerals Income and Investment Fund (MIIF), which owns Agyapa, is 100% Ghanaian. Agyapa Royalties Ltd is also a 100% Ghanaian-owned entity until it lists on the stock exchange, where the government plans to sell up to 49% of the company’s shares in an IPO. The shares will be dual-listed on the London and Ghana Stock Exchanges.

Ofori-Atta said that registering the entity in Jersey, in the Channel Islands, was very well intentioned, given that a good few international companies with a presence in Ghana, including Tullow and Vodafone – both which are listed on the London Stock Exchange – are registered in Jersey. He further said that a listing on the London Stock Exchange will ensure that Agyapa Royalties will be required to abide by the highest standards of corporate governance and reporting.

Broaden engagement

Charles Adu Boahen, a deputy minister of finance, gave a presentation that offered an overview of the Agyapa Royalties transaction and how Ghana stands to benefit from the transaction.

He guided the participants through the process and work that has gone into structuring the transaction from early 2018 to date.

Participants in the virtual meeting were satisfied with the explanation of the transaction and urged the government to ensure that the initiative benefits all Ghanaians, especially those in mining areas. After the presentation, participants agreed that the transaction was a good one and beneficial to the people of Ghana.

Members of the Council and the faith-based organisations also advised the government to broaden its engagement and consider providing the presentation in local languages, so that a broader range of Ghanaians can understand the dialogue.

Fred Dzakpata

Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online.
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