Days After Closing Down Indigenous Ghanaian Company
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources is in Australia as head of a seven-member Government delegation to that country, to explore business opportunities in the mining sector which is facing accusation of “gross abuse of executive power” over the revocation of the license and operations of Exton Cubic Ghana Limited.
A statement issued by the Public Relations Unit of the Ministry, had noted that the delegation would take part in the 2017 Africa Down Under Conference, which would be held in Perth from September 6 to 8.
Mr. Amewu, is expected to address more than 1,200 delegates, who would be attending the conference and outline Government’s initiatives with regard to mining.
Interestingly, back home the Managing Director (MD) of Exton Cubic, an indigenous Ghanaian mining company; Augustus Amegashie, has in a letter addressed specifically to Mr. Amewu, described the cancellation of the company’s licenses to prospect for bauxite in Nyinahini in the Ashanti Region as a “gross abuse of executive power”.
Mr. Amegashie served notice, his company was speaking to it lawyers on ways to get justice at the law courts, saying “We believe that such unfair treatment meted out to an indigenous Ghanaian company runs against His Excellency President, Akufo-Addo’s mantra of “I believe in Ghana”.
The statement issued by the Ministry on Mr. Amewu’s trip to Australia had said that ,the ‘‘..annual conference attracts a great deal of interests from organisations planning to invest in projects or are already having projects doing business in Africa.’’
The Minister, at the event assured mining investors in Ghana that, the Value Added Tax (VAT) on exploration activities, will soon be reduced to attract more investment, adding the government is certain the move will remove some of the tax burdens on businesses in the exploration and extractive sector.
“Government has intended to attract more businesses like mining companies into Ghana and we are looking seriously into the regime to make it more attractive…one of the difficulties that we know that most of the mining companies in Ghana face have to do with the Value Added Tax on exploration activities.
We are having serious discussions with companies to see how we can together begin to reduce it,” the Minister said.
He said, the 2018 budget, which is set to be presented to Parliament in November this year, is likely to capture the revised VAT charges on exploration activities.
“I have had several engagements with the Minister of Finance and we are hoping that in next year’s budget something will come out very significantly in the area of that,” the Minister adds.
Meanwhile, the management of Exton Cubic Ghana Limited in the letter stated that “we wish to inform you that our company intends to do all that is possible within the remit of the law to protect and realize its rights under the leases. Our lawyers have been instructed in this regards”.
The company, linked to the younger brother of former president John Mahama, who is also the boss of Engineers and Planners, Ibrahim Mahama, said it would ensure it uses every legal means possible to claim its legal interests in rich bauxite deposits in Kyekyewere, Mpasaso and Kyirayaso.
The minister had earlier given the go ahead to Exton Cubic, but was resisted by the Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, who had seized the machines of the company claiming he was unaware of the company’s presence in the region.
Later, Mr. Amewu changed his mind, daring the Exton Cubic to proceed to court, saying the process leading to the grants of the license were not transparent, hence the revocation.
“There are processes and durations that one needs to pass through. If for reasons we have to go beyond those processes, then that would not be an acceptable permit at all,” he said.
“For instance, if you are asked to go through environmental permits. If the law says it’s going to take you about 30 or 300 days to finish, there are reasons why it wants it to be so but this company goes through one stage to another and do publications but the law says you must gazette before you do publication,” he added.
However, Exton Cubic insists it has complied with both its legal and regulatory obligations, at all material times in the execution of the leases, therefore government should not have abrogated its license through the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry.
Mr. Amegashie, warned the action by government will go a long way to deter other private entities from investing in productive ventures which could have brought massive employment to the teeming youth who the government says it is relying on the private sector to employ them.
“We note government’s decision that jobs for the teeming unemployed youth can only be generated by the private sector and believe that your action in disrespecting the sanctity of signed agreements will deter the potential private investments needed to create more jobs”, he said.
The statement which copied to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, said “We are by this letter expressing our disappointment at your decision and state that the reasons for your action are not borne by the facts and the evidence on record. We consider your action arbitrary and a gross abuse of executive power”.
The company continued that the action by the Lands minister was in sharp contrast to the president’s campaign slogan that he believes in everything Ghana hence will promote and protect all Ghanaian businesses to flourish.
“We believe that such unfair treatment meted out to an indigenous Ghanaian company runs against His Excellency President, Akufo-Addo’s mantra of “I believe in Ghana”, it said.