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Business News of Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Source: GNA

Minister urges AngloGold to help develop Obuasi

Homase (Ash), May 22, GNA - Mr. Emmanuel Asamoah Owusu-Ansah, Ashanti Regional Minister, has urged AngloGold Ashanti to do more in its social responsibilities to win the hearts of the people of Obuasi and its environs.

"I wish to avail myself of this opportunity to express government's appreciation to your past efforts in trying to relieve our people of their present deprivation".

"But certainly, you have to do more to bring AngloGold Ashanti closer to the people of Obuasi and its surrounding areas".

The Regional Minister made the call in a speech read for him at the commissioning of AngloGold Ashanti's five billion-cedi aquaculture project at Homase in the Amansie Central district. The project formed part of the company's sustainable development programme launched last year.

Mr. Owusu-Ansah said the reality was that despite the philanthropic effort of the company, public perception about its activities was negative and calls for immediate remedial action.

He said AngloGold Ashanti was variously accused of polluting water bodies, damaging peoples' houses without the payment of requisite compensation and causing environmental havocs.

The Regional Minister added that if compensation was paid at all to the affected persons, it was seen as meager.

Mr. Owusu-Ansah observed that though some of the accusations might be misplaced, majority of them had substance, which needed consideration by the company.

"The problem as I see it is ultimately traceable to the lack of consultation and the absence of consensus building among you and other stakeholders", he said.

He pointed out that the growing impasse between AngloGold Ashanti (Obuasi) and the Obuasi Municipal Assembly was a case in point as it could be solved through regular contact and consultation.

Mr. Owusu-Ansah also touched on a classroom block the company built at Adubrem in the Homase area, which had become a white elephant because the company did not consult the local people.

"The school block you put up at Adubrem has not made the desired impact largely because the authorities were not consulted". "So we have a situation where the beautiful school building has only 20 pupils, yet many schools in the district do not have classrooms".

The Regional Minister, however, commended AngloGold Ashanti for the bold initiative in implementing the aquaculture project, which he said, marked a turning point in the company's relationship with the local communities in which they operated.