By Cecil Mensah
Even though, the Bank of Ghana (BoG), has directed that all transactions be quoted in Cedis, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agency responsible for issuing environmental permits to miners, has for the past months been quoting its permit fees for the small scale miners in Dollars in blatant disregard for this directive.
This disregard for the BoG directives, came to the fore at a press conference in Accra by Ghana National Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM),
Addressing the press, Mr Collins Kusi, President of the association, together with Mr Godwin Amah, the General Secretary, said they have watched and monitored the effects of the massive increment of the Small Scale Mining environmental permit.
They said, the targets of the increment, have been weakened in terms of acceptability and would compound the problems confronting the sector.
According to them, the actions of EPA in charging Dollars for the requisite licenses, will increase the activities of the illegal mining, popularly known as ‘Galamsey’
They stressed that, the Minerals Commission, which is the main agency for issuing mining leases and digging permits, has kept its processing and consideration fees at GH¢ 250.00 and GH¢ 5.50.00 respectively.
This, they claimed, has attracted small scale miners operating without the requisite permits to acquire lease permits for their operations, but the EPA charges of $ 2400.00 and convertible at the exchange rate, is killing small miners and opening up the sector for foreigners to take over.
He said, even though the fees and charges are a doing of Parliament, EPA’s decision to up its charges from GH¢ 750 to $ 2400, GH¢ 300 to $2100, representing a whopping 1000 percent increment, must be reconsidered.
Even though “We admit fees charged are certified by Parliament, the association observed that the increments are arbitrary and could be a disincentive for miners not to acquire the necessary permits and licenses to carry out their mining operations in the country.
The leadership of the association expressed their displeasure at the upward review of the fees and charges by the various Ministries Department and Agencies (MDAs) in the sector.
We have been disappointed that in spite of a formal petition to the appropriate organizations to have the review of the fees and charges suspended for a consultative dialogue on the subject , the regulatory bodies have ignored our calls and went ahead to implement the charges,” the association said
The association, however, appealed to the government to intervene by streamlining the charges and fees charged by EPA.
The association is also calling for the suspension of the review of fees and charges and stoppage of the Dollarization of the fees charged by EPA.
The association is hopeful the government will not ignore its wake- up call and rather use its office to streamline the charges by EPA in accordance with the government’s vision of creating opportunity for all as well as the creation of one-stop-shop organization to deal with mineral licenses and payments.
According to them, this will go a long way in ensuring effective and efficient regulation of the small scale mining sector.
The association promised to avail itself for a stakeholder’s consultation dialogue on the subject matter to avert any confrontation between members in the sector and the EPA.