Veep rebuffs linkage between galamsey fight and $15bln China support

Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has allayed fears that China’s financial support towards Ghana will compromise government’s fight against illegal mining known locally as ‘galamsey’.

He reiterated President Nana Akufo-Addo stance that no country or its nationals will be allowed to flout the laws of Ghana when it comes to the social menace.

The President added that Ghana will continue to have a cordial relationship with the Chinese, stressing he will ensure full enforcement of the law without fear or favour.

He said Ghana, as a country does not hate the Chinese, nonetheless the laws governing foreign nationals in trade and business will be applied to the letter.

The President said his administration will continue to find lasting solutions to the menace of illegal mining.

The latest to add his voice to the issue is Dr Bawumia who said government would deal with anyone who found to be engaging in the practice after it has been banned.

His comments follow China boosting Ghana’s government’s ‘One District One Factory’ initiative with a funding facility worth up to $2 billion.

This is after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that is committing the amount to a number of Ghanaian banks and the private sector led by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and the Chinese government’s private sector development corporation.

Under the agreement, the China National Building Materials and Equipment Import and Export Corporation (CNBM) would provide up to 85 percent financing for viable projects recommended by the One District One Factory secretariat, which is under the Office of the President of Ghana, and accepted by the banks.

The facility would be offered to the banks at low interest rates, in the single digits, and has a minimum of eight years for repayment depending on the project.

Among others, CNBM is to construct the factories for Beneficiary Companies and equip the factories with the requisite and necessary equipment on a turnkey basis, to make them fully operational for the successful implementation of the Programme.

The MOU was signed in Beijing, China on June 21, 2017, on the sidelines of the four-day official visit of Dr Bawumia to China, the first by a high-level government official since the New Patriotic Party took office in January this year.

Ghana Commercial Bank, Access Bank, Universal Merchant Bank and the Ghana Import and Export Bank have so far signed up to the compact, although other banks have the opportunity to join.

China’s Eximbank in 2012, offered $3bn to the previous Mills and Mahama governments but only $1bn finally came after years of back and forth between the two countries.

In exchange, Ghana wants to roll out the red carpet to Chinese investors to come in for rich natural resources some of which are being harassed by illegal miners.

Returning from his 4-day visit to China, Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia said at a Sunday press briefing at the Jubilee Lounge of the Kotoka International Airport, Ghana needs to ‘leverage its natural resources.’

Dr. Bawumia said it “makes economic sense” for Ghana to use what it has to get what it needs – money.

There has been a backlash by sections of Ghanaians who believe that China’s benevolence towards Ghana will compromise the fight against galamsey.

Related: Ghana, China must consider bilateral relations before fighting over galamsey

The Chinese are heavily involved in illegal mining activities popularly referred to as ‘galamsey’ in Ghana and the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry was an ultimatum for illegal miners to cease their operations with some risking the confiscation of their equipment.

Chinese lined up to be repatriation

But Dr Bawumia said the Chinese government is happy with Ghana’s galamsey stance.

“They will not tell us how to enforce our laws as we cannot also tell them what to do regarding their laws.

“The fight against galamsey is no respecter of person or nationality; whoever the offender is will be dealt with in the same way,” he said emphatically.

According to him, that is not an issue at all as the Chinese government has been supportive of government’s fight against the menace “as per our laws”.

He applauded the ban on illegal meaning, which he said is achieving a lot to saving the environment.

“I don’t think there is any linkage between the fight against galamsey and our support from China. China wants us to do the right thing and we want to do it even more,” he said.

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