Business News of Wednesday, 1 March 2017
The Ashanti Regional branch of the Ghana Gold Buyers Association is alleging that foreigners engaged in gold buying in Ghana are involved in money laundering, but the state security agencies are looking on unconcerned.
Mr Solomon Autel, President of the association, who made the accusation at a news conference in Kumasi recently, alleged that the foreigners are buying the gold at the international prices, but export them through the Precious Minerals Marketing Company (PMMC), without returning the proceeds in dollar currency to Ghana to boost our foreign reserves.
Mr Autel also alleged that the conduct of these foreigners, who are mostly from Asia, flout our banking rules, and that their gold purchases and sales are not going through the banking system. According to him, about 90 percent of gold purchased on the local market are exported through the back door, and complained that “we have been paying our taxes, but our jobs are being taken away from us.”
The visibly worried gold dealer noted that number of expatriates indulging in the buying and sale of gold is substantially high, and that a single person can purchase 50 kilos of gold a week.
Outlining the operations and regulations of the Precious Minerals Mining Company, Mr. Autel said foreign gold-buyers must be based in Accra, and not come to Kumasi or any other mining areas or villages to compete with the indigenous people to buy gold from source, because they are buying the gold at the world market price, and they cannot compete with them.
The Ashanti Region gold buyers’ President revealed: “These foreign gold-buyers operate within houses and some shops at Adum in Kumasi. The sad reality is that we Ghanaians, whose work has been taken over by these foreigners, are being chased by the Internal Revenue Service for tax payments.
Mr. Autel told The Chronicle that the foreigners had rendered them unserviceable, emphasising: “We cannot compete with them, because they are buying gold at the world market price and exporting it out of the reach of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company, and even the little that pass through PMMC is not well documented.”.
On the immigration side, the leader of the Ashanti Region gold buyers stated that many of these foreigners do not have resident permits, adding that they also do not have tax files at the Internal Revenue Service.
At the Registrar General’s Department also, the foreigners have no proper documents to indicate they are running an enterprise or company.
Mr. Autel accused the constitutionally-mandated PMMC of failing to give comprehensive data on the export of gold.
Mr. Autel noted that proceeds from gold purchased by the foreigners do not pass through the Bank of Ghana (BOG), which would have benefitted the central bank.
“In 2015, BoG made an assessment of about US$3.5 billion of gold exported out of Ghana.” He added: “If such money had passed through BoG, I believe there would not have been so much pressure on our currency, the Cedi.”
Digging deeper into the operations of foreigners in Ghana, he alleged that when these foreigners are able to export their gold and return to Ghana with dollars, they determine the price of the dollar on the black market and banks.
They also sometimes buy dollars with proceeds from the gold sale, and ship them back to Ghana without channeling them through our banking system.
Taking the erstwhile Mahama administration to the cleaners, Mr. Autel bemoaned that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) never took interest in their grievances when the foreigners took over their jobs, alleging that the immediate past government was rather supporting the foreigners.
He said: “PMMC sided with these expatriates, an allegation he asked the Flagstaff House to probe. PMMC could not stop the foreigners, as they exported their gold at a given percentage, and ignored those of us who were wailing over our lost jobs.”
He recounted: “In our quest to save our jobs, we approached and informed the Ashanti Regional Police Command about this menace, but they did nothing about it.
“PMMC must build data whereby all gold buyers would be captured in the tax web,” he said.
The gold buyers pleaded with President Akufo-Addo to open an inquiry into their plea and grievances, and stop further and adverse effects on the economy.