The Alliance of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working on Extractive, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance, has called on the Government to return the Agyapa Royalty Transaction to Parliament for a thorough debate and approval, or face court action.
“We hold on to the President’s call for national consensus and resubmission of the transaction to Parliament. Anything short of this directive would undermine any trust we have in the words of the President,” Mr Kofi Bentil, the Spokesperson of the Alliance, said in Accra on Tuesday.
The CSOs included the Africa Centre for Energy Policy, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability, Centre for Democratic Development, Natural Resource Governance Institute, Penplusbytes, SEND Ghana, Third World Network Africa, and the Publish What You Pay Ghana, at a press conference.
The others were the Friends of the Nation, WACAM, Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas, Chamber of Petroleum Consumers Ghana, Centre for Public Interest Law, Oil Watch Ghana, IMANI Centre for Policy and Education, the Institute for Democratic Governance, as well as the Integrated Social Development Centre.
Mr Bentil, who is also the Vice President, IMANI Africa, said the Alliance have had information that some processes were underway to aid the eventual listing of the company on the London Stock Exchange by the last quarter of 2022, through Jersey, a tax haven, in spite of the fact that the Ghanaian public had not been engaged properly on the transaction.
The Government had also concluded negotiations with Jersey for a Bilateral Investment Treaty to provide a broad framework for the relationship between Ghana and Jersey to enable the Agyapa transaction to be effectual.
Describing the transaction as “inherently illegal”, Mr Bentil said monies earmarked to be accrued, ranging from US$500 million to US$750 million, were “paltry” and a rip off of the Ghanaian.
Giving the background to the transaction, he said the Government intended to sell 49 per cent of the country’s future receipts of untied royalties from 48 mining leases covering the best gold acreages in Ghana for a paltry sum under the deal.
He argued that Ghana had, in the last few years, exported gold exceeding US$ 6 billion per year and that the bulk of the trackable gold came from those leases.
“The royalty rate across these mines ranges between three per cent and five per cent. In two years, the total royalty received amounted to about US$430 million (US$200 million in 2020 and US$230 million in 2021),” Mr Bentil said.
“Therefore, it stands unconscionable why Ghana seeks US$500 to US$750 million for half of the royalty streams in perpetuity and diverts the critical resources from the budget and, by extension, developing financing into the Agyapa structure, which is buried in secrecy.”
The Alliance was frightened that the Agyapa deal had been tied to the leases rather than a precise gold production volume, he said.
The implication was that any additional discoveries of gold on those leases, given recent trends, would increase the amount of royalties that Ghana would give up to the Agyapa entity and, by extension, the investors who would pay Ghana a paltry sum, Mr Bentil said.
He said the Alliance was not against alternative action to optimise the mineral sector but was against “the current attempts to sell the risk-free right of the country to royalties and the attendant questions around the transaction.”