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16.03.2009 General News

ISODEC On Control Of Nation's Natural Resources

By Kingsley Asare - newtimesonline.com
ISODEC On Control Of Nation's Natural Resources
MAR 16, 2009 GENERAL NEWS

The Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), a civil society organisation, has suggested that the management of the country's natural resources should be brought under the discipline of the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).

That, it said, would ensure transparency in the management of the country's natural resources.

The EITI policy ensures transparency and accountability in the extraction of natural resources.

Briefing the press last Thursday in Accra on ISODEC's observations on the 2009 budget, Executive Director, Bishop Akolgo, said immediate steps should be taken to review and adjust the fiscal regime for the extraction of the country's natural resources to ensure that the government maximised revenue in times of high prices for the commodities.

That, he said, would increase revenue to reduce the country's dependence on external loans and provide resources to invest in the productive and social sectors.

He said although the Mineral Act enjoin the mining companies to pay between three to six per cent royalties on their revenue, most of them were paying three per cent despite the high prices of gold on the world market.

Bishop Akolgo called for a comprehensive social development and social protection agenda bordering on universal provisions from the budget.

He emphasised the need for increased investment in health, education, agriculture and the water and sanitation sectors to improve services.

On revenue, Mr Akolgo said the current tax regime favoured the big companies and the well-to-do in the society.

"We need to shift emphasis from indirect taxes to progressive taxes," he said, adding that the tax net should be widened and various loopholes in the tax system and leakages in public finance, plugged.

Mr Akolgo said although the budget had some elements of pro-poor policies, it could not be described fully as a "social democracy budget".

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