The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has been accused by Parliament of violating the Minerals Development Fund (MDF) Act, 2016. The MDF Act provides that 20 per cent of the minerals royalties received by the GRA from holders of mining leases should be paid into the MDF for subsequent release to beneficiary institutions.
A joint Parliamentary Select Committee on Lands and Forestry and Mines and Energy has, however, noted that only 10 per cent of the royalties has been released to beneficiary institutions.
The delay in releasing the money, in the opinion of the committee, is a violation of section 4 (3) of the MDF Act which mandates persons who receive monies intended for the fund to lodge same into the fund within six working days.
This was contained in its report on the annual budget estimates of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR).
The committee also observed that there were outstanding mineral royalties due traditional authorities, stools, metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies as far back as December 2016.
The Ministry of Finance (MoF), when it appeared before the committee, admitted to the arrears which amounted to GH¢115.04 million.
The ministry, however, indicated that it had agreed on a road map to pay all the arrears into the fund.
Managing forest resources
The MLNR also revealed its plan of establishing 30,000 hectares of forest and restorinh 900 hectares of degraded mining sites this year.
The exercise is part of its measures to protect and manage forest resources, restore degraded forest cover and reduce loss of biodiversity.
Out of the 2018 budgetary allocation of GH¢35.89 million for goods and services, an amount of GH¢ 30 million has been allocated for the implementation of the National Afforestation Programme.
According to the ministry, the amount is inadequate but they are hopeful of receiving support from donor partners and additional support from the Youth Employment Agency in respect of the labour component of the programme.
Given the alarming rate of forest degradation and its negative consequences, the committee urged the government to increase its allocations for the project during its mid-term budget or future budget estimates.
This is to enable the ministry to restore the degraded forest cover.
The committee also urged the MoF to release the allocated amount timeously to the MLNR to ensure the success of the project.
Turnaround time in land registration
The committee also expressed concern about the MLNR’s inability to implement its target of reducing the turnaround time for land registration to 30 working days.
The MLNR explained that it was unable to implement it because the funds that were made available for the project were mainly used to digitise all the land registration process.
The committeees, therefore, recommended that an amount of US$47 million that was required to achieve the target of reducing the turnaround time be considered in subsequent allocations.