The Executive Director of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, Dr. Steve Manteaw, wants the government to be more proactive to maximise gains from the mining sector.
On the issue of royalties from mining firms, he expects the law to be changed to mandate monthly instead of quarterly payments.
Royalties are held back for three months by most mining firms before payments are made to the state.
The mining sector’s royalty payment amounted to GHc 705.2 million in 2018, according to the Ghana Chamber of Mines.
On the Citi Breakfast Show on Friday, Dr. Mateaw explained that this money delayed in reaching government coffers because of our own lax legislation.
“The companies will tell you that we as a country have not changed the laws requiring them to pay on a monthly basis because the law as it actually mandates them to pay on a quarterly basis.”
The Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative has pushed for a review of the law changes and the then Finance Minister in 2016, Seth Terpker announced that companies would have to pay the royalties to the state on a monthly basis.
But that declaration did not translate into legal backing for the state to force the mining firms’ hands, Dr. Manteaw noted.
He said the government has instead engaged the companies “and try to use moral pursuation to get them to voluntarily pay on a monthly basis and some of the companies are responding to this proposal from the GRA.”
But on efforts to change the law, Dr. Mateaw lamented that “not much action has been seen.”
Possible loss from dividends
Dr. Manteaw was commenting on findings by iWatch Africa claiming that the failure of six mining companies to pay dividends deprived the state of $14,148,373, as at October 2018.
Dr. Manteaw again noted that a lack of rigour in the management of the sector left the state’s hands tied.
Dividends that a firm gives to its shareholders are paid based on the policy of the board with the approval of shareholders.
He advised that the government could take a cue from how dividends in the oil sector are managed given it they are paid based on production “so we don’t have to wait for anybody to declare dividends.”
“We think that we may learn from this and maybe extend to the mining sector such that our 10 percent will be based on a share of production so that whether they make profit or not, once the gold is produced, we take our share of production.”
The mining industry accounted for 14 per cent of total direct domestic revenue mobilized by the Ghana Revenue Authority in 2018, and this outturn was the second highest after the retail and wholesale sector.
In nominal terms, this is equivalent to GHc3 billion, according to the Chamber of Mines.