The Minister of Mineral Resources and Political Affairs, Alhaji Alpha Kanu has referred to the newly launched newsletter on mining as erroneous, misleading and mischievous that is a figment of the authors’ imaginations.
The newsletter titled ‘Mining Watch Vol. 2 was launched at the Atlantic Hall, National Stadium in Freetown on Wednesday 13th October 2010 by the Association of Journalists on Mining and Extractive (AJMES) in collaboration with Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) on the theme ‘Main streaming the media in advocacy for just mining.’
In his statement, the minister said the newsletter was built with fabrications. He alleged that the present government through the enactment of the 2009 Mines and Mineral Act was able to get a well scrutinized document with several sections reviewed that makes it more efficient and better than before.
On the oil and gas exploration issue which Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are also concerned, the minister assured that foreign experts are presently working on its exploration to see if it is a suitable product for the world market.
He however, ended by commending AJME for their advocacy strides, describing it as a step in the right direction. “This is a sign to show that democracy is at work,” he concluded.
In his speech, AJME Chairman, Theophilus S. Gbenda noted that it was extremely hard and challenging to get at that present point. He said contrary to what their research shows, it is like the minister lacked what it took to transform our precious minerals into investment and benefit for the socio-economic development of our beloved Sierra Leone. He described the present mining situation as a potential time bomb that could explode at anytime. According to him, the minister at one time stated that “half a loaf if better than noting” meaning the present mining agreement with mining companies is better than if we would not have signed it.
“More needs to be done by the ministry to review the present agreement with mining companies, considering the tax concession given to these companies one can note that we are not making profit but mortgaging our mineral resources,” he posited, adding that the demonstration in Koidu in 2007 was a signal that the beneficiaries are not pleased with the agreement. We need to stand up as a country to see that our resources are not exploited without achievements as it has been proved in the past,” he went on.
Mr. Gbenda informed that their association was not against the operation of mining companies in the country but merely trying to make sure that all our resources were not taken away without developing the state. “For good governance to prevail, there must be judicious use of resources, but this is not prevailing because the present agreement gives room for companies to deduct from the government fund through the tax payment expenditures incurred,” he lamented.
In conclusion, he called on colleague journalists to continue the fight for the sake of development as posterity would judge them.
© Copyright by Awareness Times
Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.