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CSOs more vibrant than opposition – Gyampo

Professor Ransford Gyampo

A senior lecturer at the Political science department of the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo, has tasked the opposition to sit up in keeping the government on its toes.

According to him, Civil Society Organisations have recently been more vibrant in scrutinising the government than the opposition, a situation he described as worrying.

“I think that the CSOs are taking on regimes and I think that the CSO are doing more than the opposition and the opposition must sit up,” Professor Gyampo said on Accra-based Starr FM.

He also took a swipe at government officials who he said constantly attempt to find fault with the works of the CSOs.

Professor Gyampo said all such persons are only engaged in “political hypocrisy”.

“I commend on what CSOs are doing and I call on government to allow them to do what they are doing and once a upon a time they were in opposition and used the platform by CSOs and all of a sudden they are in power and find faults with them…I will say it is political hypocrisy.”

His comments after former Journalist and a senior member of the NPP, Elizabeth Ohene, in an article took a dig at some CSOs in the country describing them as “all knowing neutrals”.

Her criticisms followed the uproar on the controversial Agyapa deal, which leverages Ghana’s mineral resources for $1bn in development finance.

The Government on Friday denied suspending the Agyapa Royalties transaction.

The Ministry of Finance which issued the denial in a statement, said a publication claiming the suspension of the transaction after a meeting with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) is untrue.

While acknowledging meeting with CSOs on September 2, 2020, as part of efforts to broaden consultations and ensure the buy-in of all Ghanaians for the deal, the Ministry said no such decision was arrived at to suspend it.

About the deal

Government is looking for cash to finance capital expenditure and wants to leverage the country’s mineral resources to raise $1bn.

In the deal, 75.6% of royalties of at least 16 gold mining companies will go into Agyapa Royalties Ltd.

The company will list on the London Stock Exchange and the Ghana Stock Exchange and float 49% shares valued at $1bn.

It hopes to get investors to buy shares while Agyapa Ltd collects gold royalties from future mineral resources to pay as dividend to shareholders.

Agyapa Royalties Ltd is also incorporated in a tax haven, British channel island, Jersey, where companies don’t pay corporate tax. It means the company will enjoy considerable tax reliefs.

The Finance Ministry has touted the deal as an opportunity for Ghanaians to own a share of the country’s mineral resources and also an inventive way to raise money for development.

CSOs meet government

At a meeting Tuesday, leading CSOs interacted with the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta and requested for further documents to allay their concerns.

The Finance Minister obliged.

The statement stressed the deal nonetheless was not shrouded in secrecy and that was done in “the full glare of parliament in the spirit and letter of transparency.”

Referring to the discussion with CSOs, the Finance Ministry statement quoted the minister’s words to the pro-good governance group.

“I want to assure you that the integrity of the Minerals Income and Investment Fund and Agyapa Royalties and what the government intends to have them do are all above board.”

The Finance Ministry also confirmed some of the concerns raised by the CSOs.

They included “the registration of Agyapa in a ‘tax haven’. Other concerns centred on the payment of royalties and how the government arrived at the CSOs understanding of the fair value of US$1 billion as the transaction value.”

The Finance Ministry revealed that later in the meeting, the spokesperson for the coalition of CSOs, Dr. Steve Manteaw, expressed satisfaction that government was “clearly working within the MIIF law.”

The statement also praised the CSOs and called their work one that “cannot be exaggerated”

“You are able to draw citizens and government to our blind spots through your research, policy analysis and advocacy.”

“No democracy can survive in the absence of an active civil society,” the statement reads.

This particular commendation would be music to the ears of the CSOs after a ranking member of the government, Elizabeth Ohene criticized them as “all-knowing.”

The Finance Ministry also rejected claims that the deal amounted to cronyism. Explaining it, the statement said the minister referred to section 4 of the MIIF Act which states that Agyapa Royalties Ltd would not provide “credit” to any government entity or private individual.

This law, he said is “clearly against any attempt to abuse the funds. It can, therefore, not be a vehicle for cronyism.”

 

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