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Opinions of Saturday, 15 June 2013

Columnist: Jackson, Margaret

President Mahama Gets His First Shot At G8 Meeting

…In Addition To Invite By David Cameron

By Margaret Jackson

June 11, 2013

Less than six months into his presidency, President John Dramani Mahama gets his first shot at the G8 Summit which will be held in the United Kingdom on June 17 and 18, 2013. The invitation of President Mahama is in recognition of his sound economic initiatives that he has rolled out since assumption of office and his zeal to deepen democracy in the country.

But President Mahama gets a double dose as he confers with British Prime Minister, David Cameron under invitation from Number 10 Downing Street before heading to the 39th G8 summit at the Lough Erne Golf Resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.

President Mahama is expected to hold high level bilateral discussions with David Cameron and leading business leaders which will centre on trade and industry, oil and gas, conflict resolution in Africa and other issues aimed at improving Ghana’s overall economic development.

The G8 summit which began in 1976 is expected to draw leaders of the eight economic pillars of the world, notably United States of America, Japan, Germany, France, Russia, Italy, United Kingdom, Canada, European Commission, European Council and a number of other national leaders who are traditionally invited to attend, to dialogues on multiple issues including the resolution of the differences among the G8 members.

The host country traditionally sets the G8 agenda, therefore, David Cameron is expected to touch on some controversial issues since he has publicly criticized costs and also questioned the value of the G8 meetings. But Cameron will have a tall sell trying to change the G8 overnight.

The G8 is expected to discuss unresolved issues from previous summits, and topics to be covered include Food Security, Nutrition and Sexual violence in armed conflict among others.

It is important to note that Ghana currently has a partnership with the G8 which is built around the 12 principles of the Natural Resource Charter with the overall goal of strengthening Ghana’s development and also mitigating the risks and threats.

Therefore, the partnership will focus on Ghana’s exploration and production bill as well as Petroleum Commission regulations while future bills and regulations are expected to be built on best-practice with clear responsibilities for government, companies and the civil society.

While Ghana has generally performed well against most development and accountability indices, it has scored less well in terms of transparency and quality of regulation of extractives.

The partnership, therefore, expects that there will be improved transparency and accountability which involves civil society oversight and debate on taxation, regulation, oil block allocations and major investments.

Ghana is expected to move up one category in Revenue Watch 2013 extractives transparency index (oil regulation). As a result, the Ghana government will proactively share information and consult while the G8 members will provide technical support, data and information as well as strengthen their home tax oversight (mitigate transfer pricing and tax avoidance). On the other hand, companies will provide financial and contract data as per regulation and requirements with the civil society proactively reviewing, analysing and debating the data.

There would be four major objectives of the partnership that have short and long-term results which will be announced during the summit. The UK government is considering the Western Region Oil programme, a joint Department for International Development and Oil industry funded that will focus on effective use of Corporate Social Responsibility funds for development in livelihoods, value-chains and skills and conflict prevention.

Another area will be the Oil and Gas Institutional Support which aims to improve regulation, oversight and management of oil resources, with the partners being the Ghana Revenue Authority, Ministry of Finance, Petroleum Commission, Ministry of Energy and Bank of Ghana.

President Mahama is expected to make the most out of these two high profile meetings for the overall benefit of the country by showcasing Ghana’s credential as the one of the safest investments havens on the African continent due to its solid democratic record which dates back to 1992.

The visit to the Number 10 Downing Street and the G8 summit which are coming on the heels of the state visits by President Mahama to France and Japan recently, is a solid indication of how the International Community has given recognition to his government.

One therefore, expects President Mahama to sell Ghana during business meetings to investors and allay any fears they may harbour about making Ghana their number one investment shop.

It is important to note that ex-Presidents John Kufuor and John Atta Mills were also invited to the previous G8 summits.

The United Kingdom has previously hosted the G8 summits in London (1977, 1984, and 1991) and Birmingham in 1998. It also hosted the 2005 summit at Gleneagles in Scotland. ] magjackson80@yahoo.com http://majjacks80.blogspot.com