sharing in governance of extractive industries
G. Armaah, Gen. Secretary with Mic, his right, Collins Kusi President and Emma Yirenkye Exec. Dir.
The Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) is up in arms against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over news fees and charges levied against the miners and are demanding a redress. The fees up from GH¢750 to GH¢ 9,600 for its membership for environmental permit is over 1000 percent over the previous fees. They are also questioning why these charges are being quoted in dollars instead of the Ghanaian cedi. This huge jump in charges by the EPA has put a dump on the progress of many potential small miners on hold as a result. GNASSM is an umbrella association for Small- scale miners with the District and Zonal branches in all the nine Districts Mining Centers in Ghana.
At a press briefing, they cried that all attempts to meet the EPA for a solution to these problems facing their members and sort out their differences was met with all kinds of excuses and have therefore condemned this unilateral decision of the EPA, Godwin Armaah, General Secretary told the press. The frequent increment of fees arbitrarily by the EPA is a great disincentive to many of the small scale miners who are determined to regularize their activities’ leading to taxes for government and other benefits. Armaah, supported by his colleagues questioned if the EPA wants to collapse the source of their livelihood and that of many people who depend on them for a living with these new charges without consultations. ‘Without any prejudice, GNASSM is not against the upward review of the fees and charges by Ministries, Departments, and Agencies so long as they are realistic’.
With the passage of Fees and Charges (Amendment) Instrument, 2014 (LI 2216) by Parliament, the EPA got increment in its fees and charges, especially with respect to small-scale mining. The permit fee for small scale mines rose from GH¢750 to $ 2400 ($ 300 for processing and $ 2100 for permit) convertible at going exchange rate the press was informed. Explaining further, the Executive Secretary, Emmanuel Yirenkye noted that the EPA’s should not misdirect their frustration on the membership of the small miners if they face challenges of enforcement of the laws. The activities of illegal miners cannot be pushed on a recognized and lawful body (GNASSM) that contributes significantly to the country’s gold production. And that the way forward is dialogue and not arbitrary increment of fees. The Association says the formation of a task force by government recently to enforce the laws is rather aiding illegal miners as they (task force) have been corrupted.
A small-scale miner is a simple a small miner whose activities are virtually small so it is surprising that the EPA will hike the fees from GH¢ 750 to GH¢ 9600 for such a miner. Also, they also face the challenge of paying outright the fees before prospecting which is very difficult for members. And these is encouraging illegal mining commonly termed ‘Galamsey’ in local parlance
The association is therefore calling on government to intervene to streamline the fees and charges by suspending the imposed fees and charges and inform Parliament and the public, stop the dollarization of the fees and charges and encourage stakeholders engagement before during and after the passage of the amendment instrument to serve as a check on the institution and the operation of the fees and charges (miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, Act 793 to avert rapid increases and blanket approval for high increases.
Source: Seibik Bugri
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