Gov’t may broaden consultations on $1bn Agyapa deal after meeting CSOs

Government has signalled that it may broaden consultations on the controversial $1bn Agyapa deal after at least 15 civil society organisations criticised the deal as opaque.

Energy analyst Samuel Bekoe who is part of the coalition of CSOs relayed the signal after the coalition held a meeting with Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta over the deal.

In an interview on JoyNews, monitored by theghanareport.com, he said the government may include the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the National House of Chiefs.

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.

But the Minority in Parliament which walked out of the passage of the bill which gave legal life to Agyapa Royalties have criticised the setting up a government company in a tax haven.

A spokesperson for the CSOs, Dr Steve Manteaw criticised the government for ‘rushing’ the deal through parliament without further consultations with non-partisan stakeholders.

They want all the documents relating to the establishment of the Agyapa Royalties Limited, and its beneficial owners “disclosed” before government continues with the implementation of the deal.

The CSOs have called the deal ‘elite state capture’. There are also allegations of conflict of interest and nepotism reported by a governance group, CorruptionWatch.

CorruptionWatch maintains that the transaction advisors for the deal are politically-exposed persons with close ties to the top echelons of the Akufo-Addo government.

In a show of good faith, the government through the Finance Ministry met with the CSOs Wednesday in Accra.

According to Samuel Bekoe, the minister was “very welcoming” and “willing to share information”. He said Ken Ofori-Atta provided some more information unknown to the group and he has agreed to provide further particulars.

He said the Finance Minister explained to them that the $1bn initial valuation of the shares to be floated was not an arbitrary figure.

It was computed in compliance with ‘international standards’, the energy analyst revealed.

He said there were also some “ideological differences” between the two parties.

Stressing the importance of consultations, Mr Bekoe said the Public Interest and Accountability Committee which monitors the use of Ghana’s oil revenues was inserted into Ghana’s revenue management law as a result of consultations outside parliament.

He declined to say the CSOs had softened their stance on the suspension of the deal but said the government ought to slow down while consulting other stakeholders.

Mr Bekoe said the coalition of CSOs would study the fresh information on the Agyapa deal and respond publicly soon.

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