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Mining companies starve Ghana of US$14.1m

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iWatch Africa has reported  that about six mining companies in the country failed to pay dividends to the state denying the state of US$14,148,373, as at October 2018.
The Think-tank noted that, its review of the financial statements of these mining companies failed to transfer dividend attributable to the government despite declaring profit. The companies failed to obtain the needed prior approval from the Ministry of Finance for the plough back of the profit to reap the dividends.

More to this, the Auditor General in its 2018 report revealed the absence of government representation on the boards of these mining companies, despite government ownership of 10 percent carried interest.

According to the Auditor Generals Department, this “inhibits oversight functions and possible cause for cost manipulation by the mining companies.”

However, the Ghana Chamber of Mines has challenged the findings of iWatch Africa. It claims, the iWatch Africa report was based on holistic information.

“I dare say that whatever studies have been done, including the Auditor General, I believe it will not be a final report,” the CEO of Ghana Chamber of Mines, Sulemana Koney said on the Citi fm.

He also said it was unlikely the regulators of the industry, like the Minerals Commission, approved the documents used for the iWatch Africa investigation.

“There are regulators within this industry and I don’t believe that these have been actually shared with them. Otherwise, they would have pointed out the gaps in this report,” Mr. Koney said.

Mr. Koney also argued that the absence of dividends could be a decision had been made not to declare dividends; a decision which would affect all shareholders.

“The assumptions that our government is shortchanged cannot be true at all, so the confusion needs to be clarified,” he explained.

“In all businesses, you decided how you want to grow the business so it is not just about making profits and sharing the profits because you could take a strategic decision… and one of them is to reinvest into the business to grow the business.”

The companies cited by the iWatch Africa investigation were Chirano, Adamus, Gold Fields Abosso, Perseus Mining, Ghana Manganese and Ghana Bauxite.

Ghana has a 10 percent interest in all mining companies registered under the Companies Act of 1963 and these companies are to submit their returns to the Registrar General’s Department and the Minerals Commission annually.

In addition, they are supposed to conduct annual self-assessments for submission to the Ghana Revenue Authority.

iWatch Africa’s report also indicated that the government had not selected representatives for the boards of some of these mining firms.

In response, Mr. Koney said he was surprised and that such findings “just can’t be true.”

“We see these reports from these companies. Go to minerals commission and other regulators and you will see the representation of government on these boards.”

But Mr. Koney’s rebuttal to these claims was not buttressed with the names of the various board members.

“I can’t tell you off hand but it is not my place to tell you. Go to Minerals Commission, if you go to mineral commissions or if you go to the sector ministry, you will have the information,” he said.

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