By Kingsley Asare
The government must increase its stake in the mining industry and forcefully renegotiate existing and future contracts for the benefit of the country, the Ghana Mine Workers’ Union (GWMU) has said.
That, the Union said would help the country to retain greater value of the industry for the benefit of the country and its citizens.
The General Secretary of the GMWU of Trades Union Congress Ghana, Abdul-Moomin, made the call at the two-day National Executive Committee Meeting held in Accra and ended on Friday, expressed worry about the foreign domination of the mining sector and the paltry value the country retains from the sector.
“After over 100 years of mining, Ghana’s mining industry continues to be dominated and controlled by foreign interest with over 99 per cent of mining companies being foreign, owning 90 per cent of the shares with government left with a paltry 10 per cent carrying interest. Without a doubt, the Government of Ghana has since the 80s shied away from the mining sector instead of con-fronting this sorry narrative of our over dependence and reliance on a foreign dominated sector,” he said.
He said after the Structural Adjustment Programme in the 1980s, the government left the mining sector in the control of foreign companies.
Mr Gbana said with the lessons the country had learnt over the years after extricating itself from mining, the government could enter into mining to improve its stake in the sector.
“I believe in running our own mines and/or increasing our stake in these mining companies by forcefully renegotiating existing contracts as well as future con-tracts in order to create and retain greater value for the citizens of this country,” he said.
Mr Gbana observed that the government over the years had chosen the ‘lazy man’s’ approach of over relying on a “tax-royalty” fiscal regime, where the only source of its revenue depended on revenue generated from mining companies/activities in the country through taxes and royal-ties levied on revenue generated from production.
“In fact, on dividend payment, the least said about it the better as the so-called 10 per cent government carrying interests only exists on the books as many of these companies scarcely declared any dividends and in a few instances where some do, government’s share has been a minute fraction.
Considering the generous fiscal giveaways (including excessive repatriation of mining revenues by multinational businesses, signing of stability and development agreements, which continues to deny Ghana its fair share of revenue under this so-called tax-royalty fiscal regime, we believe that the time has come for this narrative to change and ought to change quite swiftly, ” he stated.
The GMWU Secretary General added “To change however would require a change in the ownership structure of mineral assets thereby shifting from the aged-long comfort zone of over-dependence and reliance on a tax-royalty regime to active participation and control of production by negotiating/renegotiating a much greater stake in these mining companies in order to create and retain the needed value for the people of Ghana.”
The General Secretary of the Socialist Movement of Ghana (SMG), Kwesi Pratt, Jnr, who was the guest speaker, said it was worrying that Ghana, the sixth largest gold producer in the world was wallowing in.