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General News of Friday, 1 June 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Don't blame mining companies for impoverished communities - NDC MP tells Akufo-Addo

The Minority in Parliament has described as misplaced and ill-advised comments by the President for blaming mining companies for the low level of development in mining communities.

The ranking member on the Mines and Energy Committee, Adam Mutawakilu, said government should explain what it did with the ¢3.6 billion paid by mining companies in taxes.

“These international mining companies are not philanthropic organisations, but profit-making entities as such they come with agreements. It is the responsibility of government to ensure that we derive maximum benefit [from these agreements],” he told Joy News’ Elton John Brobbey.

According to him, government gets royalties, dividends, corporate tax, income tax, surface rentals and windfall tax.

“For example, in 2017 government realized $3.6 billion from mining…so when the President begins to blame the mining companies it makes me wonder,” Mr Mutawakila said.

The Damango MP’s comment is in response to President Akufo-Addo describing as disgraceful the distressing state of mining communities in the country.

According to him, after decades of mining in places like Obuasi, Tarkwa and Prestea, conditions there are not enough to match the amount of gold mined out of the communities.

Opening the West African Mines Conference in Ghana, he said his government is in the process of functioning out the Mineral Development Fund Act to address these problems.

But Adam Mutawakila said the President’s comments could spark agitations between mining companies and host communities.

“He is shifting responsibility to the mining communities because these companies in their agreement have trust funds that they contribute to every year,” he stated.

According to him, as the ranking member for the sector in parliament, he has witnessed a number of presentations done by the mining companies.

He believes the president’s statement exposes the mining companies to attack as the youth in those communities when government fails to provide basic infrastructures like roads, schools and toilet facilities.

Mr Mutawakilu said when ex-president Mahama realized such a development, he set up the Mineral Development Fund.

The Mineral Development Fund Act of 2016 Act 912 was compliment the corporate Social Investment Initiatives, Trust Funds and other developmental foundations initiated by the mining companies for their host communities.

It is also aimed at providing opportunities to residents in mining communities to apply minerals revenue to the most critical areas of their communities.