27.05.2005 General News

Assist Govt to improve conditions in Mining Communities- JAK

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Accra, May 27, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Friday appealed to stakeholders in the Mining Industry to support the Government with radical and creative policies and programmes to redress the distressed state of mining communities.

He said the state of the communities where the mining companies operated was an indication of the low levels of social investments made in the communities since industrial mining began in Ghana over a century ago.

"It is a common knowledge that the vibrant, rich and powerful city of Johannesburg in South Africa is indeed a creation of the forward looking policies of the mining sector in that country. Ghana must begin to see such a healthy development here. I believe stakeholders in the industry can help Ghana to realise this", he said.

President Kufuor made the appeal when addressing the opening session of the 77th Annual General Meeting of The Ghana Chamber of Mines in Accra.

The theme for the meeting was: "The Potential of Mining for Sustainable National Development."

President Kufuor said the theme for the meeting was appropriate because the mining sector had been and would continue to be a major factor and contributor in the realisation of the sustainable development of Ghana.

He said the sector had not been able to optimise its contribution to the nation's development because given its potential the sector still had a very long way to attain that mark.

President Kufuor said Ghana was avidly expected to develop its hydrocarbon and iron ore industries to diversify the sector and help in the fulfilment of its potential.

"These are serious problems that demand sincere, committed, innovative and pragmatic solutions, which will deliver a win-win scenario for both the companies and the nation", he stressed. President Kufuor said another concern was that the sector had not shown the modern tendency of contributing to the growth of the indigenous private sector of the economy.

He said sub-contracting of support services to small and medium scale local support companies was not well developed and, therefore, appealed to the stakeholders in the sector to be engaged with this challenge.

President Kufuor said for the mining sector and the nation to move forward efforts should be made to find creative ways to address the issue of 'galamsey' operators with regard to the harm they did to themselves, the environment, their communities and the legal concessions in the sector.

He said, "as an industry, you cannot draw up sustainability and social responsibility programmes without effectively addressing the genesis of the 'galamsey' phenomenon."

President Kufuor said one of the ways to solve the 'galamsey' problem was for the sector to confront seriously and proactively the application of the concept of inter-generational equity by which the expected benefits of any new project were not allowed to disadvantage the youth of the communities in which they operated.

He said this was of crucial importance because to the extent that future generations could not re-mine the same mineral extracted today, the issue of 'sustainability' was fatally flawed in the industry, the communities must, therefore, be made to feel a shared ownership in the operations of the sector.

President Kufuor said inter-generational equity could be achieved in mining if the wealth and the opportunities generated from the industry were made to boost other potential economic activities as wealth-creating ventures for future generations.

"As a Government, we are asking your sector to join efforts with us in pursuing this goal" he said.

President Kufuor commended the Chamber for working in partnership with the Government to bring about the prompt and regular payment of dividends to shareholders and registering a steady increase in membership after years of stagnation.

He called on the Chamber to help revive the goldsmith industry and sustain it for succeeding generations

Mr Mike M. Ezan, President of the Chamber, appealed to the Government to increase the level of investment in infrastructure in mining communities and amend the Value Added Tax (VAT) Law to exempt exploration inputs from VAT.

He stressed the need for the strengthening of co-operative structures with additional Government departments and agencies to secure critical enabling conditions that would allow the industry to become more relevant to Ghana's economy.

Mr Ezan said the Chamber was of the view that the involvement of a concessionaire in the country's railway sector would boost the production and contribution of the bulk ore of the Manganese and Bauxite sector to national development and wealth creation.

He noted that more often than not the introduction of well considered innovative practices would bring an element of competition to established suppliers of services, adding " there is nothing quite so useful for the improvement of efficiencies as the creation of a competitive arena."

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