Minerals C’ssion Now Most Resourced Public Institution
The Minerals Commission is fighting off claims that it is under resourced for which reason it is unable to execute its mandate effectively and efficiently as required of the regulator for the mining sector.
According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Martin Kwaku Ayisi, the commission is currently in the best shape when it comes to logistics and personnel, unlike in the past.
He insisted that, under the watch of the sector minister, Samuel Abu Jinapor, the commission has benefitted greatly from government interventions in the last two years, making it “one of the most resourced institutions of government.”
The commission’s CEO, who disclosed this in an interview monitored by The Anchor, while responding to portions of the controversial Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng 37-page report on the failed Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM), said a lot has changed under the current Lands and Natural Resources Minister.
Mr.Ayisi refuted accusation that the commission was the main cause why the government of President Akufo-Addo is being embarrassed in the fight against illegal mining.
While admitting portions of the report that highlighted on the work of the commission as making the illegal mining business, popularly known as galamsey, thrive briskly, he clarified that the situation has been turned around.
According to him, licenses for small-scale mining can now be processed throughout the week, including Saturdays and Sundays.
“What I will attest to somehow which is stated in the report and I am surprised you didn’t mention because you focused on the board chair and Asumah Kyeremeh, the then minister for the sector. He, Prof. Frimpong-Boateng, had mentioned that the Minerals Commission was not well resourced to be able to do its work effectively and efficiently. If he says that yes to some extent, I will agree and I will tell you and the question is, is it still the case and I will say no,” he said on Joy FM’s news analysis show ‘News File’ on Saturday April 29, 2023.
He listed the number of vehicles, offices and personnel that have been acquired and recruitment made so far to facilitate the work of the commission across the country, where mining and exploration are taking place.
The Minerals Commission boss explained further to host Samson Anyenini, saying “For in instance, as we speak, mining and exploration take place in all the 16 regions in Ghana. Government is building a lot of offices, two are going to be ready next month, five are lined up for construction this year. We were given 20 pickups last year by government. Eighteen (18) have just been promised which we are going through the process, so within the spate of two years, we are going to get about 40 pickups.”
He noted that these developments have helped smoothen the mandate of the commission, saying he is now in no way hindered as far as their work is concerned because they have enough to be proud of.
40 Engineers Recruited
“So now I don’t struggle with pickups, we have recruited close to about 40 mining engineers as inspectors. So, Samson, I can confidently boast today and I am saying this on air, 31 million Ghanaians are hearing me, Minerals Commission today is one of the most resourced public institutions in Ghana. I don’t need inspectors, I have enough. We have so many vehicles, we are going to get 18 this year that is part now,” he stressed.
These disclosures by the CEO have excited many because the lack of resources, including logistics and personnel, has been the bane of these public institutions.
In the same IMCIM report, the former Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation had attributed the surge in illegal mining to delay in acquiring license to mine legally.
According to the respected cardiothoracic surgeon, issuance of license for small scale mining took too much time for people who wanted to mine responsibly and legally, and so they ended up invading these mining areas without permission and in the process destroyed the forest and water bodies.
But the CEO, in his rebuttal, said that, while he agrees with the professor, very far-reaching measures have been implemented since Mr.Jinapor took over as the sector minister.
According to Mr.Ayisi, “When the minister took office sometime in the first week of, I think March 2021, the first thing he said was ‘look, let us improve the licensing regime,’ because yes rightly so, one of the several factors that cause illegal mining is the delay in licensing process.[But] Now licensing can be done anytime of the day 24 hours, Monday to Sunday.”
He went on, “Samson, I am not boasting [but] you can apply for small scale mining license in the studio you are sitting in. You can apply for Small Scale license in 24 hours. So, if someone wants a license, today is what, Saturday, he doesn’t need to wait till sometime maybe Tuesday. It’s a thing of the past. The license system has been improved significantly, application is now online Monday to Sunday 24 hours.”
Mr.Ayisi pointed out, this innovation is first in Africa, as he insists the small-scale miners could call into the show to admit or deny what he was saying.
“They are the first to admit that the Minerals Commission they knew a year or two years ago is not the Minerals Commission of today,” he said.
On why the IMCIM failed and the chairman of the committee was frustrated, the CEO of the Minerals Commission said Prof. Frimpong-Boateng wanted to arrogate to himself powers he did not have.
He said the then minister wanted to take the job of other ministers and the regulator, which did not even fall under his ministry and so he was resisted fiercely.
He mentioned that, the former minister simply “did not understand what he was doing” the reason for which he faced hostility during the time.
In the view of the CEO, a lot has been done, but said it will be difficult for his outfit to be everywhere all the time, asking “What can be done in the circumstance where these miners go to sites as late as 12mignight and leave as early as 4am?”