Benjamin Boakye is Executive Director for Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP)

The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has said government’s decision to constitute the Agyapa Royalties Limited in a tax haven sends a bad signal to the players in the country’s minerals value chain.

Benjamin Boakye, the Executive Director of ACEP said the move has the propensity to discourage the local mining companies due to the tax exemption granted to the company in this new arrangement.

“If Agyapa comes to invest in gold in Ghana and they cannot pay taxes to government, what signal are you sending to the mining companies that are operating in Ghana.

“That one company, by virtue of Ghana government investing in, can operate without paying tax. It’s a very terrible signal to send,” he said.

His belief that the fact that the special purpose vehicle was established in the island of Jersey smacks of suspicion is also one of the reasons why Mr Boakye wants the company to hasten slowly.

“So you have a country that is deciding to go and hide and do business. Beyond it being possible and legal for you to register and do business in a tax haven, there are more questions to be asked when a country decides to go and hide in a tax haven,” he quizzed.

Speaking on Top Story, the energy expert called for the agreement to be opened up for perusal before any concrete steps are taken in advancing the deal as it could sway the public unfairly investors to tilt towards the unconventional deals.

“What you’re telling Ghanaians is that if you have a business, you actually sell off and go and buy shares in Agyapa and not pay tax because it is exempt from paying tax. You do not expect the government to follow corporate entities and their shady deals to avoid paying taxes and do the same.”

Some 15 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Tuesday demanded a suspension of the agreement until all necessary documents have been disclosed.

The Alliance of CSOs working on Extractives, Anti-Corruption and Good Governance’ during a press conference called for a multi-stakeholder conference to re-look at the deal.

“Just last week, we sighted a call for an expression of interest placed in the Daily Graphic inviting prospective consultants for the development of a strategic plan for the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF),” Dr. Steve Manteaw said.

Also speaking on the show, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah explained that the governnemt was open to consultations on the arrangement.