A stakeholders’ forum to promote the participation of mining communities in the utlisation of the Minerals Development Fund (MDF) has ended with a call on the participants to take keen interest in the MDF.
The forum, which was a collaboration between Wacam, Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) and Oxfam Ghana, was held in Kenyasi, a gold mining community in the Ahafo Region on Thursday, January 20, 2022.
It brought together about 60 farmers from different mining communities in the Ahafo Region. The communities were Kenyasi in the Asutsifi North District, Yamfo, Techire, Bomaa, Adrobaa and Susuanso, all in the Tano North District.
Leading the discussion in a presentation dubbed: “Mining and Development,” the
Programmes Director of Wacam, Kwaku Afari, explained that the MDF was set up to bring about development and improvement in the standard of living of especially in the mining communities which directly bear the brunt of the negative impacts of mining.
He said per the MDF Act, the sources of money for the fund include mineral royalties from mining companies, grants, gifts, donations, voluntary contributions among others which must be used to bring about development in the mining communities.
However, he pointed out that a visit to the mining communities across the country show abject poverty and deprivation.
“Our mining communities are beset with farm lands being destroyed, dust pollution, terrible roads, pollution of water bodies among other problems,” he lamented.
According to Mr Afari, for mining to bring about development it must take into consideration the key factors.
These, he said, were equity, futurity and the environment which are the tenets of sustainable development.
He urged mining communities to begin to ask probing questions about the MDF and ensure that the fund brings about development in their areas.
For his part, Mr Charles Gyamfi Ofori from ACEP, whose presentation was on the “Challenges in District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) and Minerals Development Fund (MDF) disbursements: The implication for local governance and decentralisation,” stated that even though the DACF and MDF are important sources of revenue, they face significant delays in their disbursements.
To this end, he recommended that the DACF and MDF be excluded from Act 947 and further legislations that encumber the funds.
“Government should timely disburse funds to MMDAs to prevent delays and cost overruns on project execution at the local level,” he further proposed.
According to him, District assemblies should have the capacity to track and validate disbursements of MDF and DACF allocated to them.
This, he stressed, will help them identify the challenge to revenue generation and further put pressure on government in meeting their funding requirements.
“The collection of rates and taxes and other internal funds must be devoid of political interference. This will allow district revenue collection officials to perform their functions without any fear of victimization,” he advised.