The General Secretary of the Ghana Mine Workers Union (GMWU), Prince William Ankrah has called on government to include the mining sector in its special initiatives.
Speaking at the 12th quadrennial delegate conference themed ‘Celebrating 75years: The contribution of the mineworker to the socio-economic development of Ghana’, Mr Ankrah bemoaned what he called the “dysfunctional mining communities” which needs urgent attention.
“There is no doubt that the journey to date has not been smooth. The ugly picture in dysfunctional mining communities such as Bibiani, Akwaatia and others are clear examples to worry about. The trend obviously needs a rethinking in respect to the future of mining townships.
“We can learn from other countries such as South Africa, Australia and the United States of America. The history of California is indeed a choice to emulate,” he said.
He further noted that “these are serious developmental issues we cannot ignore in our strategic national developmental goals. The ugly and glaring infrastructure deficit must gain a centre stage in our national debate beyond the lamentation by successive governments. We need concrete action to halt these embarrassments.”
His call on the President comes after the falling gold prices in the last ten years below $2000 per ounce and other challenges which have led to some vibrant mining communities become ‘ghost town’ after the firms operating there closed down.
Obuasi which is used to be one of the largest gold mining towns in Ghana became an abandoned town after AngloGold Ashanti’s mine was put under care and maintenance for a number of years.
The mine at the time was put under 'care and maintenance' following operational losses recorded, a situation that resulted in the retrenchment of over 5,000 employees.
The mine, however, is operating and has employed over 1500 workers who has brought back life into the town.
Even though the mining and quarry sector growth in the second quarter 2019 declined, recording 14% from the 14.9% recorded in the first quarter 2019, the sector especially the towns where these natural minerals are mined remained with little developments.
According to the General Secretary, the sector contributes a significant amount to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
He disclosed that the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) which is a mandatory tax collected by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) after the various retrenchment by the mining companies in the past three years dropped significantly.
“It is now not doubtful, that the miner had a great influence in shaping the future of our country. The hard and soft facts remain clear. The mine worker continues to contribute significantly to our nation’s socio-economic development in many folds. Tax records from the GRA attest to this assertion where Corporate Income tax rose by 23.7 percent, royalty also increased by 0.4% though there was a reduction in PAYE by 6.3%-year-end 2018,” Mr.Ankrah said.
It is believed that considering the level of contribution of the sector over the years the government should consider ensuring that, mining cities are given great attention to the sector.
The man who has been at the helm of affairs for the union in the last 20 years commended members of the Union for sustaining the Union to date.
In a speech read on behalf of the Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Deputy Minister of the Ministry Naana Eyiah promised government is committed to reducing the expatriate employment levels by ensuring that the locals are trained to take over the work while increasing the compensation levels and ensure skills transfer.
The sector minister, therefore, called on the members of the union to consider the top issues of compensation, taxation and skills transfer in selecting new executives for the union to steer the affairs for the next four years.
The GMWU was established in 1944. Its formation was to fight for improved and decent working conditions, vibrant commercial and strong mining communities among others.