Ken Ofori-Atta: Agyapa deal will help accelerate development

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The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning-designate, Ken Ofori-Atta, says the Agyapa gold Royalties deal is vital to efforts in finding new avenues to fund the Ghanaian economy in the wake of the financial constraint being imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, the impact of COVID-19 across the world will make it difficult to generate revenue through bonds and loans because of the debt situation every country faces.

He noted that the Agyapa Royalties deal provides a vehicle through which the government can leverage its mineral resources to raise equity that can be used to make up for the shortfalls in funding sources.

Mr Ofori-Atta said this yesterday when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament for his vetting.

Despite the brouhaha that greeted the approval of the deal by the last Parliament, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, while presenting his first State of the Nation Address in his second term, indicated that the government intends to submit the deal to Parliament for consideration and approval.

Mr Ofori-Atta said the decision by the government to re-submit the deal to Parliament is to ensure that the issues that formed the opposition to the last deal are incorporated into a new deal which all parties can support or get behind.

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“I think one thing I need to note is, truly, the basis of that transactions was an act that was passed which was thoroughly debated, and we did not really move away from any rebate of that act. I think it is all of us looking at the state of the economy with a new normal, which seems to be global, with regard to debt, and we looking to inject liquidity into the way in which the country grows,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.

“But the challenge for all of us as we look at the new normal, in which there seems to be quite a bit of debt by all countries, what do we do to our natural resources than to leverage it into the equity? And I think that is a question we have to face. As to how that is mobilised and the issues to contend with, I think that is the more reason why the President want to submit the new deal to Parliament so that the issues are discussed. But, philosophically, I hope we are all going to come to terms with the reality of diversifying how we capitalise and fund our nation as we intend to do,” the Minister-designate added.

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“Imagine we have this royalty company which in 20-30 years becomes more than $30 billion company which we have more than 50 per cent stake….Imagine putting this balance sheet to the Bank of Ghana. You will literally have a reserve currency which changes your economy,” Mr Ofori-Atta further noted.

Special Prosecutor report

Responding to the claims made by the former Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu, about the transaction, the Finance Minister-designate described it as a disservice to Ghana’s democracy and his outfit, especially without giving the opportunity for the party involved to respond to those claims.

“I think, really, there is quite a bit of cynicism around the Agyapa transaction and for me and the House, for such a report to be put out in the public without a chance by people like me to discuss, it is a disservice to our democracy, and that is such a fundamental right that I think we all as a people should be careful about such things,” Mr Ofori-Atta said.

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LGBTQ+/ Western support

Responding to the concerns raised by the Member of Parliament for Odododiodoo, Nii Lantey Vanderpuije, on whether the government may consider legalising LGBT+ activities for foreign aid, Mr Ofori-Atta said that the Akufo-Addo government would not accept any financial aid from other countries on the condition of legalizing LGBT+ activities in the country.

He said under no circumstance will aid with conditionalities that affect the Ghanaian culture be accepted.

“First of all, I’m not clear that it is being established as a conditionality…truly, for example, if you look at the decision the President took with regard to the termination of the PDS [deal] in which $190 million, therefore, had to be left on the table.

“I think our sociology and our traditions are the most important enduring legacy that we have and, so, we will make decisions that suit our Ghanaian purpose so that we can develop in the way we want to develop,” he said.

 

 

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