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General News of Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Source: GNA

Ghana achieves EITI Compliance

Sunyani (B/A), April 27, GNA - Ghana has achieved compliance with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the global standard for improved transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors. Mr Franklin Ashiadey, National Coordinator of the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), who announced this in Sunyani at a workshop on Tuesday, said Ghana was the fifth among the 11 countries to become EITI complaint globally. The other 10 EITI countries are Azerbaijan, Liberia, Timor Leste and Mongolia, Norway, Nigeria, Niger, Central African Republic, the Kyrgyz Republic and Yemen, Mr Ashiadey said at the 2006-2008 GHEITI audit report dissemination workshop.

The workshop was attended by Municipal and District Chief Executives, finance officers as well as coordinating directors in Brong-Ahafo Region.

Mr Ashiadey said Ghana's achievement of the EITI compliance status was very significant and was even more so as the country joined the league of oil producing countries.

The EITI compliance means the Government of Ghana has worked with the private sector and civil society groups to produce regular, audited reports of payments to the government by oil, gas and mining companies, Mr Ashiadey explained.

He added that such data enabled citizens to monitor such payments and demanded accountability.

The National Coordinator noted that a strong EITI implementation in Ghana would complement other good governance measures to ensure that there was transparency in the management and use of the country's oil revenues.

"It will also send a strong signal to the international and investor communities that Ghana is serious with transparency in the extractive sector and therefore all investors must comply with the nation's laws", Mr Ashiadey stated.

He observed that over the years the extractive industry had become associated with mistrust, suspicion and hostility. Mr Ashiadey explained that affected communities and ordinary citizens often assumed that the government and companies kept the resource wealth for themselves and undermine the econ omic development of the country through corruption and mismanagement. He said it was against this background that the EITI was born to help to address some of the challenges facing countries. Mr Ashiadey said the country had produced six EITI reports reconciling the amounts paid to the Government by mining companies. He said through the EITI reporting process, the revenues accruing to the Government from the extractive sectors were well documented and publicly disclosed.

Dr Chris Anderson, Regional Director, External Affairs, Africa, of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited, said due to the favourable economy of Ghana, Newmont had spent two billion dollars investment in Ghana within the past two years.

He advised District Assemblies and traditional authorities within the mine areas to ensure that they used the royalties paid to them judiciously to benefit the people.

Dr Anderson expressed concern that about six per cent of Ghana's Gross Domestic Product was lost as a result of illegal mining and logging and gave the assurance that Newmont would work hard to strengthen its relationship with the communities within its operational areas.

In a speech read for him, Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, Regional Minister, stressed that the mining company sector contributed significantly to the economy of Ghana in terms of foreign exchange earnings, employment creation and contribution to the GDP. He stated that the extension of the EITI to the mining sector demonstrated the government's commitment to promote transparency, accountability and good governance in the natural resources sector. Mr. Nyamekye-Marfo, however, underscored the need to go beyond the issues of transparency and accountability to address the social issues in the mining communities such as negative impacts of illegal small scale mining, issues of compensation as well as maintenance of law and order and land disputes.

The participants were taken through topics including concepts and principles of EITI, role of civil society in ensuring transparency, accountability as well as highlights of the GHEITI 2006-2008 audit reports.

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