The Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Evans Opoku Bobie, has proposed that the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC) be authorised to monitor and report on mining royalties paid to traditional authorities.
Some traditional authorities, he said, have been misappropriating mining royalties – for which reason it is appropriate that an independent institution like PIAC to be mandated to play some sort of supervisory role in promoting transparency and accountability in that realm.
According to the Mining Act, Act 703 of 2006, District Assemblies and host mining communities are entitled to 10% of total royalties paid to government.
But the Deputy Minister accused some chiefs of engaging in profligate spending with their communities’ share of the royalties, while the people wallow in abject poverty.
“It is not only public officials and politicians who misappropriate funds; some chiefs are equally culpable. They must be accountable to their subjects and society at large. PIAC has demonstrated that when mandated it can do that work,” Evans Bobie – who is also the MP for Asunafo North – said when some members of PIAC and the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ) paid him a courtesy call in Sunyani.
The visit was a prelude to the team’s two-week monitoring of oil and gas-funded projects in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The Deputy Minister called for an amendment to the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, Act 815, as amended (Act 893), which mandates PIAC to monitor how petroleum revenues are utilised.
This, he indicated, will expand the scope of PIAC’s mandate to cover oversight responsibility for the utilisation of mining royalties as well.
Per the Act, PIAC currently has three objectives: monitor and evaluate compliance with the Act by government and relevant institutions in the management and use of petroleum revenues and investments; provide space and platforms for the public to debate on whether spending prospects, and management and use of revenues conform to development priorities; and provide independent assessment on the management and use of petroleum revenues to assist Parliament and the Executive government.
Chairman of PIAC, Dr. Steve Manteaw, agreed with Evans Bobie in an interview with the B&FT, saying: “It makes good sense to replicate the monitoring and evaluation of petroleum revenue use in the mining industry. But it will require some public debate to decide the way forward on the proposal”.
He indicated, however, that holding chiefs accountable for the use of mining royalties might have some constitutional implications which might have to be ironed-out.
“The Constitution says the share of chiefs’ royalties should be used for maintenance of the stool in keeping with its status. The chiefs, therefore, interpret this as using it to maintain their palaces, cater drinks for cultural activities and pay workers at the palaces, among others. But there is a need for some clarity as to what the Constitution meant by ‘maintenance of stools’,” he added.