The government will take a firm step to disallow foreigners from engaging in small scale mining activities in the country, President John Mahama has announced.
He pointed out that “small scale mining is the exclusive preserve of the people, and as such the government will not allow the industry to be flooded by foreigners.”
President Mahama made this known when the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, led their President, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panim, called on him at the Flagstaff House, yesterday, to congratulate him on his election victory.
President Mahama stated that unlike the perception being held in certain circles, foreigners were not given licenses to engage in small-scale mining.
He said the locals normally fronted for foreigners as far as granting of mining licenses were concerned.
President Mahama solicited the support of the chiefs in stemming the practice of illegal small scale mining, popularly referred to as ‘galamsey’, as these activities were having a devastating effect on the environment.
He, however, pledged the government’s commitment to support small scale mining activities that respect the laid down rules governing such activities including environmental conservation and ecological restoration measures.
President Mahama warned that inaction might compromise the nation’s rainforests, stressing that forested parts of the country where illegal mining activities occur risked becoming savannah zones in some years to come.
On other development programmes for the region, President Mahama conceded that the road network in the region, which contributed substantially to GDP growth in terms of agriculture and mining, left much to be desired and pledged his administration’s determination to reverse the trend.
He underlined plans by the government to build a regional and district hospitals, respectively, for the Eastern Region to ease pressure on health facilities in Accra.
He said the government would continue to deepen the decentralization process, especially fiscal decentralization by making resources available to those at the district level to priorities their development, themselves through the composite budgeting concept .
On his part, Osagyefo Amoatia congratulated President Mahama on his electoral victory and expressed the hope that development challenges facing the region, including the poor nature of the roads would engage his administration’s attention.
He suggested that in appointing Regional Ministers and District Chief Executives, chiefs should be consulted.