Lithium deal: Sophia Akuffo urges Parliament to ‘slow down’

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Lithium deal: Sophia Akuffo urges Parliament to ‘slow down’

Madam Sophia Akuffo, a former Chief Justice, has asked Parliament to “slow down” on the possible ratification of the lithium deal. She said the dea

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Madam Sophia Akuffo, a former Chief Justice, has asked Parliament to “slow down” on the possible ratification of the lithium deal.

She said the deal in its current state reflected the colonial arrangement of mining leases, “thus it does not represent the interests of the citizens of Ghana.”

The former Chief Justice asked the legislative arm of government to delay or possibly “kick against” the deal to allow the Government and the concerned groups, including Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), to go back to the drawing board to do things a better way.

The 1992 Constitution, under Article 268 Clause One, says, “Any transaction, including but not limited to the application for a licence to exploit a natural resource, requires Parliamentary approval.

Given this legal requirement, Ghana’s first lithium agreement will require parliamentary ratification to take effect.

She made the remarks during the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) presentation to professional bodies on the lithium mining lease agreement between the Government of Ghana and Barari DV Ghana Limited.

“We have tried this for such a long time; do we have to keep hitting the same thing and expect different results? Why don’t we change the rhythm? We could have been presented with a better agreement. There is an opportunity to change the agreement through parliament before it becomes legally binding.”

“If there is still work to be done on the agreement, we will tell Parliament to go slow, take your time, avoid the rush, and make sure that this time around we have an agreement that is fit for Ghana, “she said.

In the quest to get a better deal for Ghana, the former Chief Justice enumerated several recommendations that should be considered by the Government and parliament alike.

She advocated for a review of the legal and policy framework underpinning mining leases and agreements, saying the current resource governance of the country still reflected the colonial policies in the mining sector

She called for the introduction of a new policy framework for the mining sector to reflect the policy of state ownership of the country’s natural resources instead of the conventional mining leases awarded to foreign companies.

To fully harness both the raw and industrial components of lithium, Madam Akuffo advised the Government to establish a well-structured lithium value chain with state ownership to create more employment opportunities for the people of Ghana.

Mr Sam Okudjeto, a member of the Council of State and a renowned private legal practitioner, said the Government must provide clarity on the ownership of Barari DV and the role of the Atlantic Lithium Company in the deal.

He also observed a discrepancy in the duration of the deal, saying that while the minister said the deal would last for 12 years, information available on the company’s website said 15 years.

Representatives from various professional groups from industry and academia also shared their thoughts on the agreement.2

Madam Sena Dake, President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, said her organisation was interested in the financial aspects of the deal, notably the taxes, value addition, and pricing of lithium.

Source: GNA

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