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20.10.2008 Politics

Parliament condemns executive for flouting constitution

By gna

The executive arm of government on Monday came under heavy criticism from Parliament for failing to bring mining lease agreement entered into with companies to Parliament for ratification.

The Government has since 1994 to 2007 failed to seek parliamentary approval for majority of mining companies operating in the country even though Article 268 of the 1992 constitution prescribes such an approval.

Article 268 states that any transaction, contract or undertaking involving the grant of a right or concession by any person of body for the exploitation of any mineral, water or other natural resources f of Ghana made or entered into after the coming into force of the constitution is made subject to ratification by parliament.

Members of Parliament, who were contributing to a debate for the approval of a report on a mining lease agreement between government and 21 mining companies, said not only has successive governments failed to bring mining agreement to Parliament but the authority and oversight powers of Parliament has been undermined by the Executive.

Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, NDC-Tamale South, said it was a “flagrant disregard” of the constitution for companies to operate without parliamentary approval.

Mr Freddie Blay, First Deputy Speaker, also touched on some environmental havoc caused by some of these mining companies and said the Environmental Protection Agency had to be empowered and resourced well to protect the country's resources.

A Mines and Energy Committee report of the Parliament said the failure of government to seek ratification from Parliament was “an affront to the dignity of Parliament, as it seems to suggest that Parliamentary ratification is nothing but a mere rubber stamp for the approval of the already executed agreements.”

“The Committee therefore wishes to sound a word of caution to the Ministry responsible for mines that any such violation of the laws of the land in future would be subjected to the full sanction of the law.”

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