Calls by CSOs to suspend the Agyapa royalties deal are “unrealistic” according to renowned Journalist, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr.
According to him, their calls should have come earlier when the deal was before Parliament; that’s before approval but to wait for this long is against the spirit of activism.
There have been calls by an alliance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working on extractives, anti-corruption and good governance for government to suspend the Agyapa Royalties deal until there’s full disclosure.
The Spokesperson for the CSOs, Dr Steve Manteaw, said the lack of transparency on the part of government “rather raises moral and governance questions. The assumption that once everything goes through Parliament it is above board and represents the interest of all Ghanaians is deceptive and turns democracy on its head. It makes the elected the only relevant stakeholders in policymaking”.
However, Kweku Baako speaking on Joy News file programme thinks “calls for suspension are not sustainable”.
“To be honest with you where we have reached, and I am a realist, parliament has approved the agreement; I’m not too sure that the call for the suspension of this deal is realistic or sustainable. It is not going to happen. It comes with a lot of integrity challenges,” he indicated.
“I am an advocate of CSOs activism; Civil Society activism implies that you would be on alert; that you would be searching and researching as to what is happening; the budget is a public record and it’s stated there that the government has an intention to do something like that . . . I have no problem when they are calling for a consultation. My problem is when that call was made,” he added.
Kweku Baako believes it would have been ideal for the government to involve the CSOs before the agreement was passed.
“It would have been ideal if the government had engaged CSOs but the CSOs must always be on the alert. The activism requires that they are always monitoring what is happening in parliament; they ought to . . .but to wait to this stage and then to make calls for reversal or suspension I think it is an unsustainable thing,” he added.
Some economic experts and the former Finance Minister, Seth Terkper have kicked against the deal.
Meanwhile, 15 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have demanded the swift suspension of the Agyapa Minerals Royalties agreement until key documents are revealed.
Agyapa Royalties is based on a law passed in 2018, the Mineral Income Investment Fund (MIIF) law which seeks to consolidate all the potential mineral incomes in one area.
The government passed the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act, 2018 (Act 978) with the key objective of maximising the county’s mineral wealth for the benefit of Ghanaians while ensuring that receiving royalties from gold mining companies is sustainable.
The law was amended a couple of weeks ago to enable it to incorporate subsidiaries and use it as an SPV to do business across the world.
The parliamentary approval also included approvals of four other related agreements among the MIIF, the SPV and other entities with which it would have transactions.
The SPV is Agyapa Royalties Ltd, initially incorporated as Asaase Royalties Ltd, which has been incorporated in a British channel island, Jersey, where it will enjoy tax reliefs on the transfer of dividends and other concessions that allow it to retain much of the incomes it generates.
The company will be responsible for managing 75.6 per cent of Ghana’s royalty inflow from the 12 gold mining companies that currently operate in the country, with four more expected to come on stream.
It will later list on the LSE, but the government, through the MIIF, will retain at least 51 per cent, while a subsidiary of Agyapa, ARG Royalties Ltd — to be responsible for channelling the royalties to its parent company — will be listed on the GSE, with the government maintaining a similar shareholding structure.
As of 2017, the average inflow of royalties was estimated at GH¢650 million. The Minerals Development Fund received 20 per cent of that, the Ghana Revenue Authority got 2.4 per cent, with Agyapa Royalties absorbing 75.6 per cent.
But many analysts and political figures have criticised the transaction and alleged that it is meant to allow a few individuals to have control over the country’s mineral royalties for personal gain.