The Ghana Chamber of Mines has described the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as a tool to enhance livelihoods in mining communities, which over the last century, had been left on the back burner plunging several millions of people into abject poverty.

Ms Joyce Aryee, Chief Executive of the Chamber, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview on Wednesday that the EITI basically aimed at ensuring that revenue accruing from the industry trickled down consistently from the government to the communities that generated the resources.

The EITI is an agreed practice which aims at increasing transparency over payments by companies to governments and government-linked entities, as well as transparency over revenues by host country governments.

It is an initiative of Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom at the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in September 2002.

Ghana has a Steering Committee, which is chaired by Dr Anthony Akoto-Osei, Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.

She said Ghana was taking the EITI further from just a reporting concept to the point where resources resulted in development especially for the communities, companies and people churning out the resource.

Ms Aryee noted that the position of the chamber was to boost economic activity within mining towns and their surrounding areas and reiterated its call on the government to increase the amount of royalties paid to the mining communities from nine per cent to 30 per cent.

“We are sure that if this is done it would make mining communities catalysts of change and sound economic development where other business concerns congregate to create positive livelihoods”.

She explained that even though the government was paying its due of royalties according to the Constitution, “we can go ahead to increase what goes into these areas thus opening up economic activity to increase general development”.

Giving the rationale behind the EITI, Ms Aryee said revenues from oil, gas and mining companies in the form of taxes, royalties, bonuses and other payments should be an important engine for economic growth and social development in developing and transition countries.

However, lack of accountability and transparency in these revenues could exacerbate poor governance and lead to corruption, conflict and poverty.

The EITI would increase transparency and knowledge of revenues and empower citizens and institutions to hold governments to account.

It would make mismanagement or diversion of funds away from sustainable development purposes more difficult.

It should also benefit developing and transition economies by improving the business environment, helping them to attract foreign direct investment.

Responsible companies stand to benefit from a more level playing field, a more predictable business environment and better prospects for energy security.