THE Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy has expressed concern about the delay in the release of mineral royalties to the beneficiary institutions.
It noted that as of September 2018, an amount of GH¢42.02 million, representing only 42 per cent of the mineral royalties due the beneficiary institutions had been released by the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
The delay in releasing the money, in the opinion of the committee, is a violation of section 4 (3) of the Mineral Development Fund Act (MDF) which mandates persons who receive monies intended for the fund to lodge same into the fund within six working days.
The committee further observed that the recurrence of the delay in releases had led to accumulation of arrears over the years.
As of December 2017, the arrears amounted to GH¢115.04 million.
The officials of the Ministry of Finance gave an assurance to the committee that the Auditor General had completed validation on the outstanding arrears and would soon commence payment.
The committee, therefore, urged the MoF to strictly adhere to the law on the payment of royalties and the settlement of all arrears.
Monitoring of projects
The committee also expressed concerns about the lack of monitoring by the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands (OASL) on development projects undertaken by the District Assemblies (DA) as required by Section 16 of the MDF Act, Act 912 (2016).
It noted that because the law did not mention that OASL should undertake monitoring and evaluation of projects undertaken by the MMDAs, the OASL was unable to undertake such an exercise to determine whether the funds disbursed were utilised effectively and efficiently.
That, the committee said, had also made it difficult for the OASL to impose sanctions on the MMDAs for unexecuted projects.
The committee was of the view that in the spirit of good governance and for the people of Ghana to derive the full benefits of the laws passed by Parliament, it would be proper that one should be interested not only in the transparency of OASL in the disbursement of the fund, but also in the accountability on the part of those who were recipients of the fund.
It, therefore, recommended that the MMDAs be made to submit their plan of action to the OASL as to how the funds disbursed would be utilised before the monies were released to them.
It also suggested that the OASL liaise with the Ministry of Local Government to help propose regulations for the MDF Act to make provisions that would enable the OASL to be actively involved in the monitoring and evaluation of projects undertaken with the MDF.
Governing Board for MDF
The committee also expressed worry about the delay in constituting the governing boards of the MDF and the Ghana Geological Survey Authority (GGSA).
The committee observed that the effective administration and management of the MDF and the GGSA was being undermined by the delay in constituting the boards.
It discovered that the Mining Community Development Fund Act, 2016 (Act 912) which was passed to support development programmes within the mining communities was not effectively being managed because the scheme had to be administered by the Local Management Committee which ought to be constituted by the governing board of the MDF.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources informed the committee that the process for the constitution of the boards was at an advanced stage and expressed the hope that the process would be completed soon.