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17.03.2007 General News

Mining communities brainstorm on two initiatives

By myjoyonline

A two-day community-based training workshop aimed at sensitising representatives of mining communities in the Brong Ahafo region about the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the Publish What You Pay Processes (PWYP) has opened in Sunyani.

The EITI idea was first proposed by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002.

Its essence is borne out in the belief that citizens of most natural resources dependent countries have failed to reap the full benefits of the extractive sector because of perceived corruption and mismanagement of revenue from the sector.

The EITI process therefore seeks to open up the extractive sector to public scrutiny and to ensure that the dividends from the sector are publicly accounted for and distributed in an equitable and just manner.

The Chief Executive Officer of Livelihood and Environment Ghana (LEG), Mr. Richard Adjei-Poku, said the PWYP did not seek to endanger companies' business interests in developing countries.

It rather calls on companies to reveal the same basic information about payments to the state that already routinely disclose in developed countries.

He said natural resources are held in trust by the state for the citizens of a country and therefore citizens have the right to information about the management of revenues associated with their resources.

Mr. Adjei-Poku said PWYP calls on multinational oil, gas and mining companies to reveal information about net payments to the state to ensure sustainable development and transparency in the various mining communities.

He said it is the aim of the coalition to sensitise participants on how the assembly managed the 55 per cent of the mining revenue allocated to district assemblies for development projects instead of on recurrent expenses.

Dr. Steve Manteaw, the Campaign Coordinator and Member of Multi Stakeholder Steering Committee at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, said the remote cause of conflicts in mining communities in Ghana could be attributed to the paradox of poverty in the midst of abundant mining revenue.

He said despite the wealth generated by mining and other extractives, the ordinary people become even more impoverished as livelihoods are lost, environment degraded and the community's sense of security shattered often with little or no compensation.

Dr. Manteaw said the EITI seeks to address the issue of social accountability in the mining sector through revenue transparency, elimination of corruption, companies' compliance with statutory payments, judicious use of extractive sector revenue to reduce poverty especially in mining communities and to promote national development.