Minister-Designate for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta says President Akufo-Addo’s first term administration worked hand in hand with the 7th Parliament on all the fine details about the “Agyapa Gold Royalties Deal” and the collaboration led to the passage of the Minerals Income and Investment Act, 2018 (Act 978) and its subsequent amendment Act, Minerals Income and Investment (Amendment) Act 2020, (Act 1024).
Quoting from section three (3) of the Minerals Income and Investment Act as amended today the 25th of March 2021 when he took his turn for vetting before Parliament’s Appointment Committee, Ken Ofori-Atta, noted that government through the Finance ministry has stayed within the confines of the Act at every stage of efforts to establish Agyapa as a “Special Purpose Vehicle” for purposes of monetizing the country’s gold reserves by targeting both the London and Ghana Stock Exchanges.
Section 3 of MIIF Act
Section 3 of the Minerals Income and Investment Act, 2018 (Act 978) states as follows; The Fund may (a) “create and hold equity interests in a Special Purpose Vehicle in any jurisdiction in furtherance of its objects, and the Special Purpose Vehicle shall be free to operate as a regular, commercial company; (b) “procure the listing of the Special Purpose Vehicle on any reputable stock exchange that it considers appropriate”.
Section 3 (a) and (b) of Act 978 was amended by the Minerals Income and Investment (Amendment) Act 2020, (Act 1024) as follows; (a) “hold, directly or indirectly, equity interests in a Special Purpose Vehicle in any jurisdiction in furtherance of the objects of the Fund, and each Special Purpose Vehicle shall operate as a regular, commercial company” and (b) “procure the listing of a Special Purpose Vehicle on any reputable stock exchange that the Board considers appropriate”.
“I think one thing that I need to note is that truly the basis of that transaction was an Act passed and thoroughly debated and we did not rarely move away from any edicts of that Act” Ofori-Atta said.
“If you look at the powers of the fund which this august House passed, Act 978, section three (3), the fund may create and hold equity interest in a special purpose vehicle, procure the listing of the special purpose vehicle in any reputable stock exchange, assign or transfer any rights of its mineral income. The challenge for all of us is as you look at the new normal in which there seem to be quite a bit of debt by all countries, what do we do with our natural resources to leverage it into equity” the Finance Minister Designate added.
Reintroduction of Agyapa
Ken Ofori-Atta further indicated that the President’s intention to reintroduce the Agyapa deal before Parliament will certainly be carried out should he get the nod to serve as Finance Minister and that the re-introduction of the deal before the House will afford Members of the 8th Parliament an opportunity to take a second look at the deal and to clear all doubts about sane.
“I think that is a question that we have to face. As to how that is mobilized, the issues we contend with, I think that is the reason why the President wants us to submit so that if there are issues around it, it can be dealt with. But philosophically, we are all going to come to terms the reality of diversifying how we capitalize and fund our transformation which we intend to do” Mr. Ofori-Atta stated.
In 2018, Parliament passed the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act 2018, which establishes the fund to manage the equity interests of Ghana in mining companies and receive royalties on behalf of the government. The purpose of the Fund is to manage and invest these royalties and revenue from equities for higher returns for the benefit of the country.
The government then, through the Minerals Income Investments Fund (MIIF), set up Agyapa Royalties Ltd to monetize Ghana’s gold royalties. This was after Parliament approved the Agyapa Mineral Royalty Ltd agreement in the name of the Government of Ghana on 14 August 2020 despite a walkout by Minority members of the House.
In exchange, the company plans to raise between US$500 million and roughly $1 billion for the government on the Ghana and London Stock Exchanges to invest in development projects. However, the deal has become a subject of hot debate after concerns expressed first by the opposition National Democratic Congress, leading up to the December 2020 general election.
On 14 August, a few days after approving an amendment to the MIIF Act, the Minority walked out during the approval process of the very transaction agreements, the facilitation of which the amendment to the Fund’s statute was amended.
Civil society groups quickly added their voices to the opposition, describing the special-purpose vehicle (SPV) being created then, Agyapa Royalties of Jersey, as being opaque, potentially corrupt and undervalued.
They insisted that the deal must be suspended to allow for greater stakeholder involvement, according to some of the dissenting voices. However, the government has insisted that the deal is in Ghana’s best interests.
Last year, the president directed the Finance Minister and Attorney General to review the transaction agreements and make the necessary adjustment to address some of the concerns raised by stakeholders, where appropriate.