The United Nations Organization last week commemorated its 75th anniversary at a time when there is great disruption in the world, compounded by the unprecedented health global crisis with severe economic and social impacts.
COVID-19 is a stark reminder of the need for cooperation across borders, sectors and generations, the world body notes. Our response will determine how fast the world recovers; whether we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how we handle challenges like climate change etc.
This proves the urgency for the nations of the world to come together to fulfill the goal of nations united has never been greater.
In commemoration of the event in Ghana, Members of Parliament on the floor of the House last Friday, called on the United Nations to urgently revise the target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) due to the negative economic impact of the pandemic.
Leading the motion, Minority leader of the House, Alhaji Haruna Iddrissu said the call was necessitated because the outbreak of the pandemic has made it nearly impossible for most economies to meet the pledges made to the SDGs.
He noted that there are widespread reported cases of worsening poverty levels in the world as an outcome of the health crisis. Consequently, he believes the UN would have no other option but to call for an urgent meeting of Heads of State to revise the targets of the SDGs.
To buttress the Minority Leaders’ position, Mrs. Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister for Foreign Affairs agreed that under the present circumstances, it would be difficult for Ghana to achieve the SDGs by the set goal of 2030.
She therefore concurred with the Minority Leader that the timelines need to be revised since the impact of the health crisis on economies has been dire.
The call does not come as much of a surprise considering the fact that Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta also called on rich nations to consider extending the moratorium on debt servicing. He made the call as his tenure ended as chairman of the joint ministerial committee of the boards of governors of the world bank and International Monetary Fund.
Ken Ofori-Atta urged G20 countries not only to extend Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) by two years, but also to examine the scheme. This shows that developing countries’ development goals have taken a huge hit. The call is on compassionate basis.
Greater transparency in extractive required
Although Ghana is a leading producer of gold with a production capacity of 4 million ounces last year, yet mining industry contracts leave a lot to be desired when it comes to transparency. Unlike the petroleum industry where contracts are openly and competitively contested, the mining contracts are much more opaque.
Commenting on this state of affairs, Head of Policy Unit at the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Pauline Anaman lamented that a key sector like mining remains closed to public scrutiny, noting it is not easily available to sight a mining contract.
Her comments are being made on the back of the recently launched Ghana Contract Monitor platform, an online tool that provides updates on work progress of non-producing extractive sector companies who possess valid licenses to explore, develop and produce petroleum and mineral resources.
Ms. Anaman said obtaining information about mining sector contracts remains a huge challenge, a situation, she notes, makes tracking very difficult.
While the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), of which Ghana is a member, requires information along the extractive industry value chain from the point of extraction to how revenue makes it way to government, to the benefit to the public, as well as, how licenses and contracts are allocated and registered is made public; the mining sector’s processes are not so transparent.
She believes the regulator of the industry must be willing to adopt best practices in the interest of transparency and open contracting. This is even buttressed by section 103 (1) of the Minerals and Mining Law, Act 703 which says in part that the Minerals Commission shall, in accordance with regulations, maintain a register of mineral rights in which shall promptly record applications, grants variations and dealings in assignments, transfers suspensions and cancellations of the rights.
When the B&FT contacted the Minerals Commission they agreed that greater transparency is required in the mining sector and gave assurances that the Commission is amending sections of the Act to allow for greater transparency in the mining industry.
This is important because a cursory visit to mining communities in the country shows very little material benefit goes to such communities and this has to be addressed. While mining enclaves like Tarkwa are in a decrepit state, gold has been mined there for decades on end.
Greater transparency in the extractive sector is in the interest of the entire nation as a whole.