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Mr Benito Owusu Bio, Deputy Minister Mr Benito Owusu Bio, Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources
Mr Benito Owusu Bio, Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources

Minister touts significance of NREG

The deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Benito Owusu Bio has acknowledged the contributions of the Natural Resources and Environment Governance Program (NREG)   to the country’s natural resources sectors.

Delivering a key note address at the 8TH Civil Society Annual Review of the Natural Resources and Environment Sector, Mr Bio said the NREG programs has contributed to great progress in the country’s natural resources sectors, emphasising that “through this program we developed the national Climate Change Policy and strategy, a New Forest and Wildlife Policy, and a Mineral and mining policy.”

He enumerated that some major progress including the increases in minerals and forest revenues were seen, adding “these are important progress which set us on a path to better manage our resources.  The artisanal logging industry and the mining industry were however not fully addressed in this program.  Rather than being daunted by these wicked policy challenges, we need to persist and rise above the entrenched negative interest that set us back.  We would need to ensure greater law enforcement and compliance with regulations if we are reduced if not eliminates the revenue and mismanagement leakages.”

He added, “I would want to use this medium to stress the utmost important of the urgent need to reform our mining practices which could have brought Ghana to a serious crisis.  The Ban on small scale mining would soon be lifted, but we cannot go back to our old ways of irresponsible mining which threaten our water bodies, marine ecology and the industries that depend on water.

“I also want to commend the Operation Vanguard Operatives who continue to serve in various mining spots, arresting, foiling and deterring illegal mining activities.   We have so far made some arrests that are facing the full rigors of the law.

“We will continue to be ruthless with such illegal mining activities if that is what it takes to restore sanity in our forest and mining sectors.  We cannot afford to fail at this material point in time to reverse the fortunes from the mining sector.  We face certain destruction and irreparable damage in our business-as-usual mining.  Already, the restoration and reclamation of mined lands runs in to millions of dollars that we cannot afford.”

The deputy minister   continued that , “Just as we have enjoyed the support of the media and civil society in the fight against irresponsible mining, I strongly believe that the continued support for the Multilateral Integrated Mining Project is more critical now than ever.  This project will address the fundamental and long-term problems of the mining sector which bother on method of mining and integration of mining into the larger economy of Ghana.

“ It is not in doubt that small scale mining has an important place in the economy and wealth generation of Ghana.  It is this latent potential the Multilateral Integrated Mining Project seeks to harness to improve the economy without the negative environmental, social and health impact.”

The  Meeting  was  organise  by KASA-Ghana   under the  theme,  ‘Safeguarding the  Environment  for  Posterity,  For whom the Bell Tolls’.The  meeting  marked 8th Kasa Initiative Ghana Civil Society Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) sector Review Meeting.

The initiative draws its membership  from the seven thematic coalitions namely Forest Watch Ghana (FWG), the Working Group on Mining, the Climate Change and Environment working group, Civil Society Coalition on Land (CICOL), the Coalition on Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), the Fisheries Alliance and the Oil and Gas Platform. The Kasa Platform continues to be the largest platform for civil society action in the natural resource sector in Ghana.

The Chairperson  of Kasa Initiative Ghana and Associate Executive Director of  Wacam Mrs  Hannah’ Owusu Koranteng  in address explained that the fundamental objective NREG was to address the governance failures which led to the decline in the quality of the forests, environment and to  help  Ghana appreciate the  costs associated with our development options in the extractive sector which impact negatively on natural resources.

Mr  Owusu Koranteng said environmental degradation is estimated around 10% of GDP … “and this challenges us to have concerted efforts in getting policy makers to appreciate that the thinking that the environment provides “Free Lunch” carries with it a huge cost that would be paid by many generations who never participated in the decisions we take today nor benefitted from our decisions.”

She  said  The KASA project is to empower citizens “ to speak for our generation and help us to be part of the creation of generational equity for future generations.”

 

By Mohammed Suleman

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