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12.10.2006 Business & Finance

NGOs dig into miners hideouts

By GNA
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A coalition of civil society groups in Ghana has launched a campaign to make it mandatory for extractive companies to disclose all payments to the State.

The Initiative, called “Publish What You Pay” calls for transparency in the extractive industries to be made a condition of all lending, development and technical assistance programmes by international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The Initiative operates alongside the “Publish What You Earn Initiative”, which expects State agencies and representatives to also publish receipts from the extractive industries.

“Publish What You Pay” campaign involves over 300 non-governmental organizations worldwide that is calling for mandatory disclosure of the payment made by oil, gas and mining companies to all governments for the extraction of natural resources.

The campaign focuses on transparency for a more accountable system of the management of natural resource revenues paid by extractive industry companies to governments in resource-rich developing countries.

The searchlight on openness arises from the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), which British Prime Minister, Tony Blair proposed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002.

Launching the campaign, Dr Thomas Akbzaa, a Land Administration Consultant and Lecturer at the University of Ghana, said the campaign was not only to remove the ignorance of the poor about the damage mining caused in the environment, but also bring about a communal commitment to the fight against poverty.

He expressed regret that mining in most cases rather aggravated poverty in mining areas, and called for further examination of the EITI to make it really work.

Dr Akbzaa expressed the hope that the campaign would elicit the support of the Government.

Dr Steve Manteaw, a Communications Policy Consultant, in a statement observed that wrong decisions and the manner in which they were made in terms of investment, employment, community relations on the part of the Government and corporate bodies have pushed many extractive sector businesses into conflict with the communities in which they operated.

Dr Manteaw, who is also of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), a civil society coalition, re-echoing the words of Busumuru Mr Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, said; "these conflicts had often been aggravated by the massive corruption and the lack of transparency associated with the distribution of wealth generated from the extractive sector”.

He said: "Unless we participate in the process of ensuring good governance; proper accountability and transparency in the sector; we shall never realize the sector's potential to impact positively on our people.

"We must be part of that process in a way that ensures that the State, the communities and the ordinary people receive their fair share of the dividends in the extractive sector."

A resolution adopted by the 15-member group coalition, led by ISODEC, called for a debate and review of the formulae for sharing the dividends from mining.

"The retained 80 per cent by the Central Government could for instance be reduced to 70 per cent as the 80 per cent retained by the Government leaves very little to be distributed among the District Assemblies, chiefs and people of communities affected by mining," the Coalition said.

The Coalition urged the Government of Ghana, mining companies, traditional authorities and all citizens of Ghana to demonstrate unwavering support to the implementation of the EITI in Ghana.

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