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ASMAN Criticizes Ghana Gov't over increased charges

 

The Artisanal & Small Scale Mining Africa-Network (ASMAN), an advocacy non-governmental organization in the natural resources and environmental governance, recently issued a press release expression their displeasure over their government's increment of Fees and Charges on the activities of small scale miners in the country. Below we published the full statement.

 

The Artisanal & Small Scale Mining Africa-Network (ASMAN), an advocacy non-governmental organization in the natural resources and environmental governance, has criticized Government for the increment of Fees and Charges (Amendment) Instrument, 2014 (L.I. 2216) which came into force on March 10th 2015, especially the increment with respect to small scale mining. The Statement signed by the Executive Director, Nii Adjetey-Kofi Mensah, ASMAN stated that as much as the amendment can be justified, it is a gargantuan increment.

In fact, ASMAN is not against the upwards review of fees and charges by MDAs in as far as they are not exorbitant and unrealistic. We know that increases in fees and charges may be warranted because of:

  • Increases in the prices of major inputs required for the provision of the services.
  • The non-revision of Fees and Charges for a long period.
  • The introduction of new revenue items, charge for services outlined in the enabling Acts and to charge for services which did not attract any fees.

Nonetheless, ASMAN observed with grave concern the practice of  most Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) dependency on Internally Generated Funds (IGFs) to run their institutions and therefore, increase and introduce new Fees and Charges arbitrarily on annual bases, even when the Fees and Charges are already high.

 It is common knowledge that only Parliament has the authority to approve of fees and charges, before they are charged by the MDAs. While some MDAs follow due process by submitting their request through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) to Parliament by justifying and confirming the grounds for their request for increase and the introduction of new fees and charges, some MDAs have illegally arrogated to themselves the authority to charge fees arbitrarily without following this laid down procedures.

 A case in point is the Precious Mineral Marketing Company Ltd. (PMMC), which increased its license fee by 500% from GHC300  to GHC1500 without going through MoFEP and Parliament for approval. Whiles ASMAN view this as an illegal act, the rate of the increment is also too high. This could increase the number of people buying and selling gold illegally, because of the significantly higher change in the licensing fee as most of these people operate informally in rural and remote areas.

 Another observation ASMAN has made is the increasing “Dollarisation” of the fees and charges contrary to law and directives by the Bank of Ghana. We believe Bank of Ghana has not changed its directive on pricing local services in foreign currency.

 With the passage of (Amendment) Instrument, 2014 (L.I. 2216) by Parliament, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) got  increment in its fees and charges. The fee for Small Scale Mines  rose  from GH 750 to GH 8,400 an equivalent of $ 2100 (@ GH 4 to $1) .

 Even though these fees and charges were certified by Parliament, ASMAN observed with scorn a 1120 % increase in the fees for an environmental permit. This could be a disincentive for people to acquire the necessary permits and licenses to carry out their mining operation, which are already highly informal and difficult to regulate. ASMAN demands an explanation for this arbitrary and Gargantuan increment...

Mineral Commission

 The Mineral Commission, is the main agency for issuing mining leases and permit. EPA is also an agency that issues a complimentary permit but the challenge is that whiles the Mineral Commission charges a Processing Fee of GHC250 and Consideration (License) Fee of GHC550, the EPA is charging US$2100 convertible at going exchange rate. Interestingly, the Environmental Permit Fees (US$2100) is by far higher than the actual Small Scale Mining License Fees (GHC550). The inconsistencies in the fees and charges by the regulating agencies leave much to be desired.

 Without any prejudice, ASMAN wishes to recount other fees and charges that affect the licensing of small scale mines:

  • Stool Lands Administration Fees
  • Land Valuation Fees
  • Metropolitan/District Assembly Fees

 All these fees and charges  need to be streamlined for  responsible and sustainable small scale mining.

 Going forward in the review of fees and charges ASMAN suggests:

 That there should be serious stakeholder engagements by MoFEP before submission to Parliament. Where those asking for the review would not be the only ones engaged to justify why the need for upwards review, but also those that the review is going to affect directly, to avert rapid increases and blanket approval for high increases.

  • As a check on the institution, the operation of the Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009 Act 793 should be assessed and streamlined to avoid undue excessive resort to increases by some MDAs every year to raise IGFs.                            
  • ASMAN wish to appeal to MoFEP to suspend for review the imposed fees and charges, and inform Parliament and the Public, since they have the power under (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009 Act 793 to do so.

 

 

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