Agyapa deal in country’s interest – Finance Minister
The government has maintained that the approval of five agreements to allow a special purpose vehicle (SPV), Agyapa Royalties Limited, to leverage Ghana’s mineral royalties to secure about $1 billion is in the best interest of the country.
The Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, said the deal would allow the government to leverage Ghana’s mineral royalties to finance large infrastructural projects, especially in mining communities.
At a press briefing held at the Ministry of Finance in Accra yesterday, the minister dispelled some public assertions that the deal was shrouded in secrecy and raised conflict of interest issues.
He stressed that due procedure was followed in enacting the Minerals Income and Investment Fund (MIIF) Act, 2018 (Act 978) and the subsequent approval of the five agreements that paved the way for Agyapa Royalties to own the rights to mineral royalties in the country.
“This deal is not hasty, it is not rushed and not shrouded in any secrecy because we have been working at it since 2018. We are confident that Agyapa is going to be the largest company in Africa in the mineral royalty space and it is in the best interest of this country,” he stressed.
On Friday, August 14, this year, Parliament approved five agreements to allow the country to derive maximum value from its mineral resources and monetise its mineral income accruing to the state in a sustainable and responsible manner.
That would be by allowing the MIIF, created by Act 978 of 2018, to incorporate a subsidiary/subsidiaries and use them as SPVs to engage in pure commercial private sector transactions to maximise the mineral royalties from the 12 gold mines, with four penciled to come on stream in the medium term.
The approval covered the Minerals Royalties Agreement, the Amended and Restated Minerals Royalties Investment Agreement and the relationship agreement among the government, the MIIF, Agyapa Royalties Limited and ARG Royalties Ghana.
The rest are the assignment agreement between the MIIF and Agyapa Royalties for the assignment of the right of the fund to Agyapa to receive the royalty value due from ARG under the investment agreement for the acquisition of the allocated minerals royalties from the fund in consideration for shares to be issued by Agyapa to the fund at an agreed price of $1 billion.
The approval was to enable the country to use Agyapa Royalties as an SPV to secure about $1 billion and leverage to finance mines in Ghana and across Africa.
The yields accruing could also be used to finance large infrastructural projects by the MIIF.
By that agreement, Agyapa, which will operate as an independent private sector entity, will be able to raise funds from the capital market, both locally and internationally, as an alternative to the conventional debt capital market transactions.
The funds, which are expected to be raised from the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE) through initial public offers (IPOs), will be a long-term capital, without a corresponding increase in Ghana’s total debt stock, and hence without a public debt repayment obligation.
Following the approval of those agreements, some groups, including the Minority in Parliament, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and some civil society organisations (CSOs), raised concerns that the agreements were opaque and amounted to the mortgaging of the future of the country.
The opposition NDC raised concerns that the deal was shrouded in secrecy, with its flag bearer, Mr John Mahama, serving notice that he would cancel the deal if he won power.
Additionally, a coalition of 15 CSOs called the Alliance of CSOs working on Extractive, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance, is demanding the immediate suspension of the implementation of the controversial SPV, Agyapa Royalties Limited.
The coalition said until there was full disclosure on the beneficial ownership of Agyapa Royalties, the implementation of the deal should be deferred.
Responding to those concerns, Mr Ofori-Atta said the issue of disclosure of beneficial ownership of the Agyapa Royalties transaction was a non-starter because the government was the owner of the company.
“As it is now, Agyapa Royalties is 100 per cent owned by the MIIF, which is also 100 per cent owned by the government. It is after listing it on the stock markets, both in Ghana and London, that shares will be floated, and even that, the government will keep at least 51 per cent of the shares,” he added.
Touching on claims that the deal was rushed through Parliament, the Finance Minister said the facts pointed to the contrary because stakeholders, including the Attorney-General’s Department, the Minerals Commission, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Bank of Ghana and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), had all played key roles since the process started in 2018.
Benefits of deal
Mr Ofori-Atta described the deal as timely because gold prices were higher and the country could benefit more from the royalties.
He also said returns from the deal would be used for capital expenditure in four critical sectors – education, health, housing and infrastructure, mostly in mining companies.
“The deal will also help improve the quality of roads in mining communities. Heavy trucks and vehicles ply the roads in mining areas and it is important that the roads are in good condition,” he said.
Additionally, he said, jewellery companies and refineries would be established to promote value addition in the gold value chain.
Conflict of interest
On concerns about possible conflict of interest situations in the Agyapa Royalties deal, a Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Charles Adu-Boahen, said such a situation would not arise.
On the specific issue of the Senior Minister’s son, Mr Kofi Osafo-Maafo, being made a consultant to the deal, he said due procedure was followed to hire him based on his competence in fund management and securitisation.