Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. I would like to support the amendment that is proposed by the Committee. My reason for doing so is as follows:
Mr Speaker, royalties are a payment to the state but it is not all that we expect from the mining industry. When somebody invests in the minerals and mining sector, the first thing that we expect, apart from being able to put in place plant and capital to extract the minerals, we are to ensure that they comply with our environmental laws and regulations. That comes with a cost and it is obligatory upon our institutions to put in place effective monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the people do what they were committed to do at the time they were given the licence.
We must also recognise that when a business is established in a particular community, it becomes a source of employment for the community and provides an opportunity for other service providers to also locate around the area and plan their own livelihoods.
Mr Speaker, the challenge with the mining sector is that we have tended not to implement our own responsibilities properly and after that we complain about the fact that we are losing in the mining sector more than we are gaining.
Are we saying that our environmental impact regulations are deficient? I do not believe so. I believe the challenge is that even what we have, we are not able to properly monitor.
Now, on the issue of revenue that should accrue to the state, we are capable of bringing legislation to this House to amend the percentage of royalties, if we so choose. When we have a Legislative
Instrument brought before this House, essentially, Mr Speaker, what we are looking at is to see whether the Hon Minister is acting in accordance with the powers that are conferred on him by the principal Act.At least, that is my understanding of how we deal with subsidiary legislation.
We are not going through a process of amending the legislation clause by clause according to whether we agree with it or not, because they are seen to be subsidiary legislations. It is not a process that goes through a debate.
Yes, it is true that if one is not happy with it, two-thirds of the House can decide to set it aside. But we are looking to see whether it is in compliance. We do not go into all the details. Maybe, they do that at the committee level but it is not brought to the floor of the House for that kind of debate because that is not what is entailed in subsidiary legislation.
So, it can come back to this House if we so choose to further amend the Bill; if we think that for one reason or the other, given the cycle that prevails in the commodities sector, we should be increasing or decreasing the royalties rate.
I agree with the Hon Majority Leader entirely when he says that countries have not developed based only on revenues obtained from the extraction of commodities. That is the reason why we have a conversation about beneficiation and value addition.
But in order for beneficiation and value addition to happen, the basic cost of the operation on which one is extracting the minerals and the process in which one is engaged in that business has to be properly administered by the state and we have to have clarity in the relationship amongst the Distr ict Assemblies, Traditional Authorities, Government, the Minerals' Commission and all the other stakeholders involved.
Mr Speaker, in sum, I think that certainty is important. I do not think that this House defeats any of its objectives of protecting the interests of Ghanaians, if we bring certainty into this Bill.
I think that ultimately, it would be for the benefit of this country and should the need arise to change the rate we could still come back to this House to amend the legislation.
After all, every year when we pass the Budget Statement, there are consequential amendments to Financial Bills, which we pass as a matter of course. This is to give effect to the Budget Statement, we need to do that. We do not consider it an imposition on the House when we have to do that.
So, if in the particular instance of minerals and mining we now have to bring an amendment Bill to increase the percentage rates of royalties, why would that be a problem?
So, Mr Speaker, once again, I support the position of the Committee and hope we can vote in favour of it.