Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta has said the dissenting views being expressed currently on the Agyapa Royalties deal by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Minority Caucus in Parliament show that they are just carrying out their duty as an opposition party.
At a press conference in Accra on Thursday, August 27, he wondered why the NDC are objecting to the deal at this moment when they have been part of the discussions since 2018.
Obviously, he said, they are taking political capital out of it because elections are just around the corner.
Ghana’s legislature approved the controversial agreement Friday, August 14 despite a protest from the Minority.
Based on the agreement, Agyapa Royalties Limited (ARL) will trade shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange for private people to buy. But the Mineral Income Investment Fund (MIIF) will remain the majority shareholder.
The Minority said the deal makes it impossible for a future government to replace managers of Agyapa Royalties Limited although the Minerals Income Investment Fund will remain the majority shareholder.
The flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama, has also questioned the deal and said he will not recognize it in case he wins this year’s polls.
A group of CSOs led by Dr. Steve Manteaw, Chairman of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, noted that the government of Ghana and Parliament rushed in approving the controversial Agyapa Royalties agreement.
Dr Manteaw said at a press conference on Tuesday August 25 that: “What we are telling government is let’s slow down…let’s have more transparency, more consensus building around the approach before we go forward with the approach.
“I don’t know of any national emergency that warrants that we should rush the process to raise funds for development.”
Reacting to all these opposing views, Mr Ofori Atta said: “The challenge for me is the opposition has been aware of this transaction since 2018 and have been part of discussions and negotiations. I can only think that because it is close to elections they may see that there is a political advantage of it.
“This deal is not hasty, it is not new. I saw some of them involved in discussion in which they were supporting all of that so there must be a new element.
“The only element I can see is 100 days away when on December 7 [we will vote]. They are doing their job as an opposition.”
He added the government is being innovative in the generation of revenue for developmental projects with regard to the Agyapa Royalties agreement.
Mr Ofori-Atta said government is in a hurry to fix the developmental challenges facing the country hence the need to use all manner of means within the legal framework to raise revenue.
“We are excited about the listing of Agyapa in London by the end of the year. It creates the first royalty company of that nature in Africa.
“It is really sad that for a country that has been mining gold since the 15th Century with the Portuguese, we still don’t have any international listing company either in gold or even cocoa.
“This must come to an end and we believe this is a strong statement to register Ghana’s presence going forward.
“We need to create structures that allow us to access the funding. If we don’t do that we allow ourselves to remain captives of the international companies that take our resources and simply market them to the same groups that we choose to ignore. There are those who say we should be careful not to mortgage yourself today, the gold in the ground for future generations.”
By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana