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21.10.2008 Social News

House Discusses Plight Of Mining Communities

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman & Samuel Nuamah -

THE issue of the relationship between mining companies and their  host communities, which sometimes degenerates into violence, came up in Parliament yesterday.

This was when the House was considering a motion on a mining lease agreement  between the government and 21 mining companies operating in Ghana.

Freddie Blay  (CPP-Elembelle),  First Deputy Speaker, noting from media reports, expressed concern about the conduct of certain mining companies whose operations resulted in environmental degradation and pollutions of water bodies which tended to give problems to people in their operational areas.

He  said in  as much as mining  companies were contributing to the economy, they should as well  do more to protect the environment and  the livelihood of the host communities to promote peaceful co-existence.

Mr  Blay urged Parliament to assert its oversight responsibility by ensuring that lease agreements were  brought to the House in good time for careful examination before ratification to ensure harmonious relations between the companies and the host communities.

Contributing to the motion, Haruna Iddrisu, (NDC-Tamale South), expressed concern about the fact that most of the lease agreements were entered into dating back  from 1994 to 2007 and questioned why they were now being brought up for ratification.

He  described  the delay in submission of the lease agreements for ratification by Parliament as a “flagrant violation of Article 268 of the constitution”.

Mr  Iddrisu  similarly expressed concern about  granting of long term mining  leases.

The Deputy Minority Leader, Edward Doe Adjaho  (NDC-Avenor Ave) decried the delay in the ratification of the agreement, noting  that some of the leases were even about to expire.

But the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Abraham Ossei Aidoo, on a point-of-order said the lease agreements  were enforceable despite the delay in the ratification.

The report of the Committee on Mines and Energy signed by the  vice chairman, Edward Ennin, (NPP-Obuasi), recommended to the House that all future mining leases should be  brought  before the House for ratification before  commencement of operations.

This, the report noted, follows the dissatisfaction by the committee, of the inability of the various ministries responsible for Mines, over the period in question, to seek ratification of Parliament prior to the execution of the various mining lease agreements between 1994 to 2007.

The House also took the National Pension Reform Bill through the Consideration Stage during which members  made some amendments to the Bill.