Trade data between Ghana and three of its major gold trading partners – Switzerland, India and the United Arab Emirates – has revealed that over US$6 billion worth of gold exports remains unaccounted for from 2013-2016.
Can you imagine that while gold import figures for Switzerland revealed they had imported close to US$7billion worth of gold from Ghana, official records in the country indicated that it was a little over US$3billion? The obvious question is: why this disparity in official records? Your guess is as good as ours, since smuggling of the precious minerals means vital revenue to the state is lost.
Probably all this accounts for the spate of illegal mining in the country, with youth heading to the pits in droves in search of gold. Is this another gold rush? The Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC) is shirking its responsibility if that amount of gold is unaccounted for. Foreigners are said to be procuring gold locally – and exporting same illegally in order to avoid paying taxes.
Some have argued that the numerous taxes required by the GRA, the Minerals Commission and PMMC is responsible for the rate of smuggling. That said, it is hard to fathom why our borders are so porous smugglers can move goods with ease without any form of detection while the state bleeds from lack of revenue.
These illicit flows from the country is killing the economy in no uncertain terms, and we need stricter controls and monitoring in order to put a hold on these economic saboteurs. The joint military cum police task force that is helping to rid the country of illegal small-scale miners have done quite a good job keeping in check the activities of these unlicenced miners, but more ought to be done if we really want to end the practice which has become entrenched.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has had cause to complain how gold mining towns like Tarkwa and Obuasi do not reflect the wealth taken from their soil, and that there is a need to look at a more equitable arrangement going forward. This is indeed inspiring to hear, and we hope that a more equitable arrangement will soon be tabled for consideration.
We need to benefit more from our natural resources as a country.