Government’s continuous neglect of mining communities in terms of providing good roads and other social amenities has far-reaching consequences, chairman of the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament, Emmanuel Akwasi Gyamfi, has said.
He challenged government to complement the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts of mining firms and channel development into these communities.
Failure to do so, he reckons, could spiral into far-reaching consequences.
“The little money we are getting from mining activities should be put to proper use, so that the people that are affected by the mining activities are properly taken care of.
“If we are not careful and we don’t do something about this mining issue for the proper development of people within these operational areas, then we are sitting on a time-bomb.”
He explained that mining used to employ a lot of people in the past, but this is no longer the case – adding that some mining companies are moving to contract mining, leading to job-losses which could result in desperation among the youth of those communities.
“Now that we are in active mining, let us do everything possible to make the revenues we are getting benefit the people within these communities; that is the essence of the Minerals Development Fund,” he said.
Minerals Development Fund
The Minerals Development Fund (MDF) Act 2016, Act 912, which has already been passed by Parliament, seeks to provide the legal basis for disbursement and management of ceded royalties received by government.
The purpose of the act is to establish an MDF to address the development challenges affecting communities by setting aside a higher proportion of royalties for development projects.
It also introduces the mining community development scheme to directly sponsor socio-economic development in communities where mining operations take place, or which are affected by mining activities.
The fund will provide financial resources for the direct benefit of mining communities, holders of interest in land, as well as traditional and local government authorities within mining areas.
Sources of monies for the fund, as stipulated in the law, include twenty percent of mineral royalties received by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) on behalf of the republic from mining leases; monies approved by Parliament; and grants, donations, gifts and monies from investments made by the fund’s Board.
The Board of the fund is yet to be inaugurated, and according to the Deputy Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Benito Owusu-Bio, the board has been put together but is before the Council of State awaiting assent and will soon be inaugurated.
Even though the Minerals Development Fund is in place, it is fraught with challenges such as its delayed implementation, Mr. Gyamfi noted.
CSR projects needs support
Akwesi Gyamfi, who is also the Member of Parliament for Odotobri, urged government to support the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects of mining firms in order to complement their efforts.
“If you go to Obuasi and some of its immediate environs, you are not too happy we have done mining in [Obuasi] for more than 100 years and we still have that kind of development deficit.
“Even with the CSR, government should still come and support. Government should make a conscious effort to develop these mining communities and fulfil the people’s needs.”