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Public Forum on Mining Reforms and Contracts Renegotiation

 Introduction and Objectives

The Third World Network – Africa (TWN-Africa) plans to host a national high-level public forum on “Minerals Policy Reforms and Contracts Renegotiation” in Accra, on Wednesday 13th March, 2013 at the British Council. The forum will bring together a group of 60 senior policy officials, civil society leaders, labour union leaders, researchers and community leaders to discuss ongoing mineral policy reforms and contracts renegotiation with the view of providing the necessary public support to these initiatives. The involvement of these stakeholders in the advocacy efforts around mineral policy reforms and contracts renegotiation is not only important but very urgent (given the nature of the mining sector). The theme of the forum is “enhancing public knowledge and engagement in support of mining reforms and contracts renegotiation”.

The forum has the following specific objectives:

    1.       Increase participants’ and public knowledge and engagement on ongoing mining sector reforms in the region and               across the continent and their implications for Ghana;

    2.       Discuss recent initiatives by the Government of Ghana in the mining sector, giving particular attention to renegotiation of               mining contracts;

Background

In January 2012, the Government of Ghana inaugurated Government Negotiating Team (GNT), a team of experts headed by an academician and jurist Professor Akilgpa Sawyerr, to undertake a series of interrelated activities ostensibly aimed at reforming Ghana’s operative mining regime, starting with the renegotiation of mining contracts, particularly those with “stability”. This followed other changes in the sector across the continent such as the adoption of continental mining policy document known as the Africa Mining Vision (AMV) by Heads of State and Government in February, 2009, and adoption of an Action Plan in December 2011 for the realization of the AMV. At the time of inaugurating the GNT, the government was duty-bound to install a windfall profit tax of 10 per cent, and implement a uniform regime for capital allowance of 20% for five years and review the principle of ring-fencing to prevent mining companies from evading taxes. Whereas the work of the GNT seems to lack public awareness and engagement other initiatives promised (such as the 10 per cent windfall profit tax) appear to have been shelved by the government.

The election of new government into office, after the December 2012 general elections, presents new opportunities for these initiatives to be ignored entirely or be resuscitated and vigorously implemented. Given the types of changes being effected in the mining sector in various African countries following a broad consensus that the current mining models on the continent have failed to deliver expected developmental benefits, those initiatives are not likely to be ignored entirely. However, there is no guarantee that the initiatives will be implemented, at least as planned and widely expected by Ghanaians. This is partly related to near public invisibility of the ongoing mining sector reform agenda at various levels (continental, regional and national) as initiated by relevant public agencies.

The current circumstances we find ourselves in require that civil society leaders, labour union leaders, researchers and community leaders who up till now have not been actively involved in mining sector advocacy become active. The opportunities brought about by the current consensus on the need to reform mining away from its “enclave nature” to a more transformative, sustainable and equitable mining regime requires “all hands on deck”. This is because the obvious challenges and resistance from vested interest that the government has faced in implementing certain initiatives in recent past are likely to continue to frustrate officials making and implementing long awaited reforms that are aimed at ensuring a well-governed mining sector which is also well integrated in the larger economy. Other objectives that are being sought with these reforms and therefore require full engagement of all stakeholders (especially actors who have not worked on mining in the past) include protection of human and environmental rights, addressing various challenges of workers (including ratification of ILO 176, reducing casualization and ensuring equal pay for equal work done), and harnessing the potential of artisanal and small scale mining to advance integrated and sustainable rural socio-economic development. These reforms also serve as an important platform for stakeholders working on trade, investment and economic justice issues to make useful gains.

In keeping with TWN-Africa’s (leading) role in defending the policy options and spaces of African countries (particularly Ghana) against further erosion and promoting alternative policies that address the systemic and structural constraints of economic development across the continent, TWN-Africa has been implementing targeted activities in Ghana and across the continent in pursuant of this role. In June 2012, TWN-Africa organized a conference which brought together a spectrum of civil society organisations reaching beyond those which traditionally have been involved on mining policy issues (such as gender and economic justice issues, trade and investment CSOs and trade unions) to discuss the opportunities and challenges of the AMV. The Africa section of the ITUC was one of the sponsors of the conference. Later in July 2012, TWN-Africa in collaboration with the Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) organized a national policy forum which brought together over 50 participants including policy officials, community activists, and individual experts on mining to discuss ongoing reforms in the mining sector.

Following these activities TWN-Africa proposes to organize a national public forum to enhance public knowledge and engagement on mining reforms and contracts renegotiation in Ghana. The main goal of the activity is to solicit a wide range of social movements and civil society organizations in support of identified government initiatives in the mining sector.

Participation

Participants at the public forum will be drawn from relevant government departments, academic institutions, policy think tanks, civil society organisations, and trade unions across the country. The wide range of participant is expected to a broad public support needed for the mining sector initiatives (especially contracts renegotiation) to be resuscitated and vigorously implemented. The types of actors to be drawn into this forum will enable TWN-Africa to strengthen relations with current stakeholders and establish new relations with relevant stakeholders in support of mining sector reforms and defense of policy space for public agencies.

Format

The seminar will have two major segments: one on introduction and the other a panel discussion on mining sector reforms in a manner that solicits needed broad public support. The panel discussion will be structured in a way allows a three or four key lead presentations around mining sector reforms and contracts renegotiation, to be followed by discussions led by key respondents before being opened up for general discussion and debate. The forum is expected to start at 9:00am and end at 2:00pm with lunch. There will be one coffee/tea break, separating the two segments. Below is a draft agenda.

Time

 Activity

 10:00am

Introduction of the Forum

Yao Graham

10:05am

 Presentation on Mining Reforms in Africa and ECOWAS levels and their Implications for Ghana

 Yao Graham

10:20am

Presentation on Ongoing Reforms and Contracts Renegotiation in Ghana

 Alhassan Atta-Quayson

10:30am

 Comments, Questions and Answers

 11:00am

 Panel Discussion on Mining Reforms and Contracts Renegotiation in Ghana

 CEPIL – Newmont Agreement

EJN (PECU) – Trade and Investment

GMWU – Workers Concerns and Expectations

11:30am

Debate and Discussions

All

1:00pm

 Lunch

 All

Expected Outcomes

The public forum is expected to achieve the following outcomes:

a)      Increased knowledge and engagement on mining sector reforms and contracts renegotiation;

b)      Increased and diversified public support for mining sector reforms, especially contracts renegotiation;

c)       Strengthen and nurture collaborative links among key stakeholders for the purpose of advancing the goals of continental mining reforms (the AMV) and national reforms;


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