The Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) bill, which is currently going through stages of consultation with interest groups, is expected to be presented to parliament before close of this year.
The bill, when finally passed, will provide the legal framework to enhance transparency and accountability in relation to governance of the economy’s natural resource sector.
It will as well ensure good natural resource governance, and empower the general public to demand accountability and transparency in the development outcomes of benefits from payments made by mining firms to government.
The bill’s Legal Consultant, Mr. Tuinese Amuzu, in an interview with the B&FT described the legal instrument as a good governance tool that will mainly promote transparency and accountability in exploiting the country’s natural resources.
He explains that the general context is to ensure natural resource extraction benefits the people, and also to provide a platform for effective implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) standards and other measures.
“It is taking for granted that transparency is good for business, good for citizenry, companies and government. Transparency along the value chain of the process is what this bill is all about, and that’s the key thing. The scope of this bill envisions transparency beyond the requirement of initial extractive initiatives.”
He explained that the initiative results from a global coalition of governments, extractive companies and civil society working together to improve accountability in the management of natural resources.
National Coordinator of the Ghana EITI, Franklin Ashiadey, said giving legal backing to the Ghana EITI process will help address some of the challenges faced by the Initiative.
He observed the Initiative has been instrumental in most reforms in the extractives sector — including review of the minerals royalty from three to five percent, review of the corporate tax and capital allowances.
“For the fact that companies are now willing to disclose information to the general public, for Ghanaians to know how much companies are paying to government alone is enough to ensure some transparency in their operations,” he stated.
The GHEITI was introduced over a decade ago with a narrow focus on revenue transparency. This has been broadened to provide accountability and transparency along the entire extractive value chain — from the award of licences and contracts through to regulation, collection of taxes, distribution and use of revenues to support sustainable development.