Accra, Nov. 3, GNA - Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, on Tuesday said some draft regulations to ensure Ghana maximises the benefits from mining had been submitted to the Attorney Generals' Department for review.
He said the regulations when passed into law would give full meaning to the Mineral and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703) and most concerns of the public regarding the sector would be addressed.
Alhaji Dauda addressing the Meet-the-Press series in Accra said, to forestall the rampant conflicts between mining communities and mining firms, the Ministry through its agencies had awarded contracts under the National Resource and Environmental Governance Programme to develop guidelines for social responsibility for mining companies and baseline data on social conflicts.
It would in addition, develop guidelines on the use of mineral royalties by metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies; compensation policy and regulations through open and accountable process and mine closure and post closure policy.
He said those guidelines and policies were expected to be finalised by February 2010 for implementation and after the various guidelines had been developed, the Ministry would explore the opportunity of having them legislated.
The Minister said the Lands Commission was tasked to review the rates payable on crops, adding, work had begun and new rates were expected to be submitted to the Ministry soon for discussion with relevant stakeholders before implementation.
He said the current rates payable on crops were miserable, saying, "a matured cocoa tree attracts nine cedis fifty pesewas, meanwhile that tree could serve the farmer for 35 years and something serious needed to be done".
Alhaji Dauda said to ensure improvement in revenue from the mining sector, the Ministry facilitated the formation of a multi-agency Mining Revenue Task Force to develop an action plan to include collaborative audit on the mining companies and application of fiscal model developed for the sector.
He said members of the taskforce included mineral commission, internal revenue service, VAT Service, Bank of Ghana, revenue agencies and governing boards.
Alhaji Dauda said the Ministry had also directed the Administrator of Stool Lands to publish all royalties transferred to the assemblies to ensure transparency and accountability in the system.
He said the assemblies had also been directed to institute justifiable projects before they could access the royalties adding, "This is to ensure that royalties are not put in current accounts and used as such but invested in projects to benefit people in the communities".
"It is necessary for citizens to know how much the sector is contributing to them in terms of royalties and how such monies are used," he said.
Alhaji Dauda said to address the challenges in the sub-sector, the Ministry had develop a draft national mining policy which had a guiding principle of sustainable development through mining, which underpinned the direction of mining related activities in Ghana.
He said some of the objectives formulated to address those challenges included further integration of mining into the rest of the economy and diversification of mineral production base; strengthening the mining sector institutions to enable them perform their functions efficiently and effectively; continued efforts to minimise social conflicts in mining communities.
Others were improvement in mining sector revenue, its transparency, management and improvement in geological and mineral information availability and sector promotion.