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23.09.2005 General News

Government to start auditing gold production

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Obuasi, (ASH) Sept. 23, GNA - The government will, by the close of the year start the auditing of gold produce in the country to determine whether total accounting is being made of gold produced in terms of quantity and quality by the mining companies.

The gold audit is also designed to determine whether the right price was being made and appropriate royalties being paid.

Mr. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning who announced this at Obuasi on Thursday said two international and four local firms have been short-listed to carry out the audit and that a committee had been formed to do the evaluation.

He was opening a two-day workshop on extractive industries transparency initiate, attended by District Chief Executives, Presiding members and planning officers drawn from 25 mining districts in the country. It was also attended by officials from the Chamber of Mines, Minerals Commission, ISODEC and Internal Revenue Service.

The workshop, which was under the theme: "Our mineral wealth, equal stake and transparency for all," was organised by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in collaboration with the Ministry of Lands Forestry and Mines and the Minerals commission.

The EITI which was launched by the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September, 2002 seeks to encourage governments, the extractive (mining) companies, International agencies and NGOs to work together to develop a framework to promote transparency in payments in the industries. "We want to start the gold audit by the close of this year" the Deputy Minister said, adding, "We want to enhance the benefits government is deriving from that sector."

Mr Agyeman-Manu said inputs into the mining industry would also be effectively audited "to do away with any possible insider-trading which has a bearing on the operating cost and hence the profitability of the business and the associated taxes".

He explained that the idea of the auditing was not to mean any suspicion but" all these activities are meant to ensure that we all police each other for total transparency.

The Deputy Minister said the country had been championing this EITI as part of its democratic dispensation and also being part of the international community.

"As you may be aware, sizeable proportions of royalties from mining companies are re-cycled into the mining communities where mining activities take place through their respective district assemblies and stool land owners for development projects, Mr Agyeman-Manu said. Ms Rita Tani Iddi, Deputy Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines said the country had been vibrant mining sector within the past two decades as twelve goldmines were currently producing gold as compared to four in 1984.

"Between 1991 and 2003, investments inflow into the mining sector by mining and prospecting companies amounted to approximately four billion, two hundred and seventy million (4,270,000,000) US dollars and these investments have resulted in the establishment of new mines, Ms Iddi stressed.

The Deputy Minister said the theme of the workshop implied that, "as a people we recognise that mining wealth, when well managed, can play an important part in the search for an equitable and sustainable development for our people." Presentations were made on the concepts, principles and benefits of the EITI, equitable mineral disbursement formula and the role of civil society in ensuring transparency in the mining industry.

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