For the effective management of the Minerals Development Fund (MDF), the Board of Trustees is set to be inaugurated before this month ends. This is according to sources at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
Information available to Goldstreet Business indicates that members nominated to the board have been submitted to the Presidency for consideration.
The members of the Board shall be appointed by the President in accordance with article 70 of the Constitution.
Prior to this, a Secretariat to efficiently manage the Fund has already been set up, under the ambit of the Sector Minister.
More so, MDF project monitoring committees have been inaugurated in some mineral producing areas such as, Daboase in the Wassa-East District of the Western Region, to submit reports on how funds are disbursed and utilized at the District level.
So far, some disbursements have been made from the Fund to some educational institutions for infrastructural development including George Grant University of Mines and Technology, Tarkwa and the University of Ghana, Legon. However, in the absence of a duly constituted Board of Trustees, the sector Minister has been allocating expenditures from the MDF and the mining industry sees this as poor corporate governance. Indeed, some critics uncharitably say that the delay in composing the Board has been deliberate in that it allows the government to use MDF monies for its own governance agenda, which often bears little relationship to what the Fund is meant for.
The Fund was instituted to address the development challenges affecting mining communities by setting aside a significant proportion of mineral royalties for development projects. This introduced the mining community development scheme, that will directly sponsor socio-economic development in communities in which mining operations takes place or which are affected by mining activities.
Mining communities, holders of interest in land as well as traditional and local government authorities within mining areas are expected to receive direct financial resources form the fund.
However, the Chamber of Mines has demanded that government further increase the share of the overall proportion of royalty revenue going into the MDF from 20 percent to 30 percent for a fixed period of time, in order to adequately tackle infrastructural challenges in mining communities. The mining firms complain that royalties meant for developing their host communities are rather diverted into other expenditures, most of them in places where no mining activities take place.
According to the chamber, in 2016 for example, mining companies in the country paid mineral royalties of GHc 550 million to Government. However, only GHc 27 million was returned to the mining district assemblies for development.
This remains woefully inadequate for the stimulation of meaningful infrastructural development in the mining communities.
By Joshua W. Amlanu