|AIMES calls on Canada and Tanzania to suspend FIPA|
|Networks - AIMES|
|Written by Kwesi Obeng|
|Friday, 26 June 2009 17:04|
Forty AIMES members from Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and partners from Canada and the United Kingdom at participating in the three day meeting which ends on Friday, June 26, 2009.
Against the backdrop of mineral price boom, a number of African countries have initiated mining policy reforms aimed at capturing the windfall associated with the decade-long price surge. Tanzania, Africa’s third leading gold producing country initiated mining sector fiscal reforms following recommendations of report of Judge Mark Bomani Presidential Committee on Mining Law Review in 2008.
While the proposed reform initiatives are being debated nationally and set to go to Parliament, the Government of Canada has launched negotiation with the government of Tanzania to sign bilateral investment agreement known as FIPA, a decision that will adversely neutralize any efforts to improve the mining policy, contracts and laws in the country.
According to AIMES, negotiation on FIPA at the same time with the national debate has the potential for undermining the autonomy of national policymaking process. AIMES argues that experience has shown that bilateral Investment agreements between individual African countries and their northern counterparts have had locking effect and undercut these African countries.
Given the size of Canadian mining interest in Tanzania, AIMES believes that this agreement is unlikely to be different in terms of reciprocal benefits. Rather, FIPA would further promote, entrench and protect the interest of Canadian investment in Tanzania, in particular Canadian mining companies operating in the country.
AIMES has therefore, called on the governments of Tanzania and Canada to suspend negotiation on the FIPA until the Tanzanian domestic mining policy reform processes are concluded to avoid further perpetuation of poverty in the East African country.
Justice Bomani’s commission recommended among others a redefinition of the roles of investors and government in the new mineral policy so as to avoid governance weaknesses; the policy should allow opportunities for the government to participate by investing in the mineral sector; the policy should clearly state the importance of linking the mineral sector with other sectors of the economy as a way of accelerating development.
Other recommendations made by the Presidential Commission were that the Tanzanian mining policy should direct most of the incentives to mineral exploration and not to mining; set up a special tribunal (mining tribunal) to resolve mineral sector related conflicts; charging of royalties should be on the basis of gross value rather than net back value and royalties should be raise while eliminating tax exemptions.
The AIMES strategy meetings have been held annually since 1998 when it was established as a platform for dialogue, capacity building, exchanges, solidarity and adoption of policy positions and strategies for influencing governments, mining companies, multilateral and bilateral institutions and processes to adopt extractive sector frameworks, policies and practices which promote and enhance community interest, environmental sustainability and national socio-economic development of countries in Africa.
AIMES 2009 strategy meeting is being held against a backdrop of global financial and economic crisis, burst in the price of some of minerals and metals especially copper, diamond and nickel as well as significant developments in the revision of mining contracts, laws and policies in the last year. The downturn has led to significant job cuts and mine closures across Africa particularly in Zambia, Congo DR and Botswana.
Since the last AIMES meeting there has also been some other significant developments not least the adoption of the African Mining Vision by the African Union; ECOWAS has drafted and adopted a West African Mining Directive; the World Bank’s Natural Resources and Environmental Governance Programme (NREG) and proposal for tax reforms in Africa’s mining sector by a some AIMES member organizations.
It is expected that this 11th AIMES strategy meeting will generate sufficient outcomes to further consolidate pat achievements and inspire confidence for collective action at the national, pan-Africa levels to feed into global processes.
Within this context the planned outcome of this meeting includes formulate strategies for resistance of policy alternatives and positions stemming from the global recession and commodity price burst which threaten the developmental alternative mining policies.
The participants will also adopt a plan of action and strategy for promoting alternative mineral policies for Africa’s development with relevant policy institutions and national governments.
The 2009 meeting is also expected to generate a body of knowledge and information Africa’s mining sector to contribute to enhance advocacy work to influence public policy choices and practices.
* Report by Kwesi W. Obeng, Assistant editor of African Agenda
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