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Auditor-General’s report indicts Minerals Commission, EPA for not enforcing regulations on reclamation

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It appears state institutions mandated to ensure responsible mining are themselves breaching the law by not enforcing same.

A ‘Performance Audit Report Of The Auditor-General On Regulating Reclamation Activities at Small-Scale Mining Sites’, shows clear breaches of the Mineral and Mining Regulations, 2012 and the Environmental Assessment Regulations, 1999.

The report indicts the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for failing to ensure that small-scale miners adhere to the polluter pay principle, which ensures that miners reclaim mined pits.

The report, which was conducted between January 2016 and December 2020, says an amount of over GHS 500,000 was not collected from 12 concessioners as reclamation bonds.

What the report said

In its summary, the report said, the activities of MC and EPA did not ensure that small-scale miners reclaim degraded mined sites to return them to their maximum beneficial value as required by the Mineral and Mining Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2182) and the Environmental Assessment Regulations, 1999 (L.I. 1652).

It added that EPA had not put the necessary measures in place to enforce the posting of reclamation bonds by SSM operators. While the Minerals Commission did not enforce the submission of operating plans by SSM companies/groups, both organizations failed to appropriately monitor and report on the extent of reclamation to ensure compliance.

In addition, the MC and EPA had not implemented procedures to verify and certify reclamation works.

“Poor enforcement of the laws has resulted in several pits filled with water on the concessions, which have become death threats to people who live or work around them”, the report further mentioned.

On concessions where some level of backfilling of pits had taken place, there were patches of heaps of sand, mini ponds and natural vegetation cover, indications that the operators failed to level the land, and plant economic
trees and nurture them as required.

EPA’s reaction

Meanwhile, the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Henry Kokofu has been responding to the issue.

He said the EPA will soon engage some companies to begin the Reclamation, Rehabilitation and Restoration (RRR) of identified degraded lands and water bodies.

“The recommendations have been taken seriously and in good faith. Indeed, steps have been taken to engage the stakeholders, including the local indigenous banks. EPA intends to fence that businesses for them. The sector minister, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, has asked EPA to roll out the directives as soon as possible.”

“Indeed, the Vice President, H.E Dr. M. Bawumia demanded a concept note on Reclamation, Rehabilitation, and Restoration of degraded lands and water bodies, which has been presented. H.E the President is very passionate about that and is in the position to offer the needed support for us to succeed. The concept note outlines the potential opportunities for jobs creations in the mined areas (communities), therefore an integral part of the fight against galamsey (solutions orientated)”, he added

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‘We’ll soon know the truth as to whether Adwoa Safo was in parliament or not’ – Ablakwa

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It appears the Minority in Parliament is not giving up anytime soon on the matter of whether Dome Kwabenya MP, Sarah Adwoa Safo, was physically present in parliament on Tuesday November 30, 2021 or not.

Despite the MP and Minister clarifying in Parliament on Wednesday, December 1, 2021 on the floor of Parliament that she was the one in the chamber on Tuesday, and that she wasn’t impersonated by anyone as suggested, the NDC minority says that claim is full of inconsistencies.

It emerged on Tuesday, November 30, 2021 that Sarah Adwoa Safo has been absent from Parliament for some time now following an extension of her leave which was granted by the President.

The allegations are that she was impersonated during the proceedings on Tuesday because the Majority side needed the numbers at all cost to approve the government’s 2022 budget, which they did despite the disapproval by the minority side.

The controversy was deepened by the fact that videos and photos of a woman believed not to be the Dome Kwabenya MP in Parliament went viral on social media.

On Wednesday however, Sarah Adwoa Safo appeared in the House insisting that she was in the chamber the previous day and that, suspicions of impersonations must be ignored.

But NDC Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, says his side is not convinced.

“Very soon, we will put out all the details we know so far about the incident; which are very troubling. Very soon we will know and get to the bottom of the matter and Ghanaians will know the truth whether she was in the chamber or not. But safe to say, we are not convinced, so far the contradiction are one too many and it is important to state that , this should not be reduced to woman hood or how to dress as a woman at all. It is a needles distortion. That is not the issue at all”, Mr. Ablakwa said.

In the said viral video, the woman was seen wearing a nose mask, leaving the chamber right after the headcount which led to the approval of the budget statement.

However, on Wednesday, Madam Sarah Adwoa Safo appearing with a different hairstyle did not wear a nose mask.

Adwoa Safo dismissed Okudzeto Ablakwa’s claims, saying “I cannot force Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa, who is my friend on the other side, to dress the way I want him to dress, that is an insult to womanhood so those making that noise should withdraw.”

Shortly after her message in Parliament, the Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak, indicated that his side will establish the truth of the matter.

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Job creation is our focus – Ofori-Atta

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Ofori-Atta will be presenting the 2022 budget today

This is in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and section 21 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921)

The budget will focus on solving the rising unemployment rate in the country

Finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta has disclosed that the 2022 budget will address the rising unemployment issue in the country.

He said the creation of jobs for the youth will be at the centre of the 2022 budget.

Also, the government will create an entrepreneurial environment for the youth of the country to venture into.

“I don’t think we can wait any longer, because the time is now on how to create an entrepreneurial state and deal with this issue once and all,” the finance minister is reported to have said by Joy Business.

“Certainly, the issues of youth and jobs will be the centre of this budget presentation,” he added.

He also said the budget will focus on improving the revenue situation in the country.

Ken Ofori-Atta will present the budget statement and economic policy of government in parliament today, November 17.

The presentation is in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and section 21 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921).

Meanwhile, economic analysts have asked Ghanaians to lower their expectations of freebies in the 2022 budget.

According to them, the nation is broke and needs to be revamped.

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Ken Ofori-Atta presents 2022 budget today

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Ken Ofori-Atta will be presenting the budget statement today

This is in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and Section 21 (3) of Act 921

The budget is described as the most anticipated budget in Ghana’s history

Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta will on behalf of the President lay before Parliament, the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government today.

This is in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and Section 21 (3) of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016, (Act 921).

The budget, which is termed as the most anticipated in Ghana’s history is said to focus on expanding Ghana’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Finance, ahead of the budget reading in a statement hinted that the budget will among other things dwell on “creating a climate-friendly entrepreneurial state to address unemployment and import substitution.”

It also mentioned the “digitalisation of the economy, skills development and entrepreneurship as among the key issues in the presentation.”

Ken Ofori-Atta in a Joy News report monitored by GhanaWeb stated that the government of Ghana is committed to putting in place measures that will help deal with the unemployment situation in the country as well as recent challenges with the employment of fresh graduates for the public sector.

“I don’t think we can wait any longer, because the time is now on how to create an entrepreneurial state and deal with this issue once and all. Certainly, the issues of youth and jobs will be the centre of this budget presentation,” the Minister said.

Ken Ofori-Atta, however, noted that creating an entrepreneurial state has been a challenge for the government, and hopefully the 2022 budget to deal with this problem.

Some interest groups including financial and economic analysts as well as professional and trade organisations have expressed varied expectations on the budget.

Whereas some analysts have urged the Government not to introduce new taxes, the Ghana Union of Traders Associations (GUTA) has, for instance, appealed to the government to implement policies that would reduce the cost of doing business in the country.

Other groups have also called for the widening of the tax net to enable the government to meet its revenue targets.

The Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) has also called on the government to review the payment of road tolls in the country.

Godfred Abulbire Adogma, the GPRTU general secretary, said Ghana should substitute paying of road tolls with a one-pesewa increment on the Energy Levy.

“When you come to the issue of road tolls, even if the government decides to raise the current amount of GHC1 to GHC2, that wouldn’t be enough.

“So, we have itemised all the reasons and the government could scrap all the toll booths and rather charge an amount per litre of fuel. That can be another measure to prevent revenue leakages,” Adogma was quoted in an Asaase radio report.

On his part, the Chief Executive of the Chamber of Pharmacy, Thony Ameka, in a Joy News report monitored by GhanaWeb, warned prices of medicines will increase if the government goes ahead to scrap the 50% discounts.

Eric Anti, Secretary of the Spare Parts Dealers Association at Abosey Okai in Accra, also expressed similar consequences.

But what is contained in the government 2022 budget?

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