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Govt violates Minerals Development Fund Act— Dr Steve Manteaw

  • SOURCE: Graphic Business | qwesa2big
  • The Coordinator of the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC), Dr Steve Manteaw has accused the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources of violating the Minerals Development Fund (MDF) Act by appointing an acting administrator to oversee the management of the fund.

    He said this was alien to the law as the Act does not recognise an acting administrator.

    “The law requires that the appointment of the administrator shall be made by the governing board in consultation with the minister so if the governing board is not in place, there is no way an administrator can be appointed,” Dr Manteaw said in an interview with the GRAPHIC BUSINESS on the sidelines of the launch of the 2017

    Resource Governance Index by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI).

    He, therefore, advised the government to stop this illegality by immediately taking steps to put in place the board to appoint a substantive administrator for the fund.

    Govt denies any violation

    A Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Benito Owusu Bio, however, denied this in an interview with the GRAPHIC BUSINESS.

    He said what the government had rather appointed a front desk officer and not an acting administrator.

    “The Ministry of Finance cannot disburse money into the fund without an administrator in place so in order not to delay the disbursement of the funds, government decided to set up a front desk office with an officer to allow for disbursements into the fund,” he stated.

    He said the government would soon constitute the governing board after which it would appoint the substantive administrator to oversee the operations of the fund.

    Regulations to back the MDF Act

    Dr Manteaw also pointed out another violation of the Act which he said was government’s inability to develop regulations to back the Act after one year of its passage.

    “The law requires that one year after coming into effect, the minister shall develop regulations to back the primary Act. That one year expired in March this year and we have not even begun the process of developing regulations for the Act,” he said.

    “My worry is that if we are not careful, we shall live for a decade without the regulations. It happened to the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, which regulations were developed in 2014, eight clear years after the enactment of the primary law. We need to get serious as a country in terms of our willingness and desire to better manage our resources,” he added.

    Challenges with the Act

    The policy analyst also pointed out some challenges with the primary law itself which he believed should be addressed.

    He said the MDF Act attempted to provide legislative backing to the practice of returning a certain percentage which is the 10 per cent of total royalties in the mining sectors to the host communities.

    “The practice, which started somewhere in 1999, has been governed by an administrative letter issued by the then government and there were concerns with respect to the sustainability of a practice that is not backed by law so we attempted to do the right thing by backing it with law,” he said.

    “However, if you look at the Act on how the share of royalties allocated to the fund should be shared, the law just states that the share that goes to mining host communities shall be distributed in accordance with the law but does not give reference to which particular law. In my view, there is no law regarding how that particular amount of money or percentage of revenue is to be distributed,” he added.

    “My instinct is that, the reference to the law is to the constitution. There is a provision that is often cited in support of the practice but that provision is in respect of stool land revenue which requires that 55 per cent of the share that is allocated to mining host communities should be spent on development projects in the district, 20 per cent the traditional council and 25 per cent the stool.”

    “And it is this particular provision that I believe the reference to the law is to but that is erroneous because that particular constitutional provision is in respect of stool land revenue so the question is, is mineral revenue stool land revenue? My answer is not because the same Constitution vest ownership of minerals in the state and not in the stool and so you cannot apply a provision in respect of stool land revenue to state revenue.”

    Manteaw ,therefore, called for a much broader and deeper consultation in formulating laws to govern the resources of the country.

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