Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Prez Mahama Must Revoke Appointment Of Minerals Commission’s Boss

Prez John Mahama

Members of the National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) from northern Ghana say, they strongly oppose the appointment of Dr. Toni Aubynn as Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission of Ghana, a decision they described as “unfair and inaccurate for the nation’s interest”. 
Over the past few years, NCOM has been working with the Minerals Commission to improve interaction and mutual confidence between mining policy makers and society towards reducing the negative impacts of mining while improving the contribution of the sector to national development and citizens' benefit. 
A statement issued in Tamale to the media and signed by Spokesperson of the group Mr. Issifu Sulemana Jobila, said a lot of work remains to be done by both NCOM and the Minerals Commission. “Unfortunately, the appointment of Dr. Aubynn well known in the past as an advocate of corporate mining interests as Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission according to NCOM is not a good signal for the interest of Ghana.
As representatives of NCOM at the community level in northern Ghana, they called on President John Mahama to reconsider his decision on the appointment of Dr. Aubynn as Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission.
The Minerals Commission is a constitutionally mandated body responsible for the regulation and management of the minerals sector of the economy in the national interest.
“As grassroots members of NCOM, we are not only shocked by his appointment but also deeply concerned and regretted that the appointment points to a pattern of submission by the Mahama Administration to the interests of foreign mining capital.
“Unarguable Dr. Aubynn is a citizen of Ghana. However, our concerns arise from the fact that he is a champion of transnational mining companies. Until his appointment, he was the CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Mines in which position he consistently defended the interest of transnational mining companies. There is a record of his pronouncements even after his appointment in defense of these interests which are not only completely opposed to the optimization of national benefit from the country's non-renewal mineral resources which raises questions about his capacity to discharge his responsibilities as head of the Minerals Commission impartially and equitably”, the statement said.
Dr. Toni Aubynn
A striking example of his advocacy for corporate interests, it said, “has been his role in the campaign in Ghana and around the globe against efforts to raise royalties and taxes paid by the mining companies. At a time when gold prices had risen astronomically (from US$400 in 2003 to almost US$1,900 in 2011) and government wanted to introduce legislation to capture a lot more of the share of this bounty, the Chamber of Mines, fronted by Dr. Aubynn, resisted this move. This was based on the palpably false claim that the industry was overtaxed. In seeking to deflect the demand for a greater national share of mineral earnings, the Chamber tried to make itself the champion of a greater community share of royalties”, the statement noted.
According to the statement, Dr. Aubynn's appointment came soon after President Mahama used the 2014 Davos World Economic Forum to make a very public submission to the demands of mining companies. It was there that he (President Mahama) announced that in “response to their pressure the government was shelving its plan to impose a windfall tax aimed at increasing the public share of mineral earnings”.

Thus NCOM asked, Is it unreasonable to assume that Dr. Aubynn's appointment to head the Minerals Commission does not only underline the influence of the mining companies in the corridors of powers but also means that they now have a firm ally in charge of the key public body overseeing the mining sector?

“Given Dr. Aubynn's long standing defense of the interests of transnational mining firms we doubt his capacity to be impartial, equitable and lead the drive towards the optimal use of Ghana's mineral wealth for the benefit of its people. We have serious doubts about Dr. Aubynn's ability to serve the national interest as CEO of the Minerals Commission, especially at this juncture when the whole African continent is moving to break with the mining regimes that subordinated national to corporate interests.
“We wonder how Dr. Aubynn can effectively head a state organization which should be ensuring that the mining industry develops better environmental and social sensitivity, and that the country derives maximum benefit from its mineral assets and which should also be a leading voice in the ECOWAS and Africa reform process. Is it unreasonable to fear that the Commission under his leadership will prioritise the interest of the companies for whom he has been such an energetic mouthpiece in the past? The statement queried.
Meanwhile, Dr. Toni Aubynn has been at post since April 2014.

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