(Dec. 18, 2008) It was reported on December 15, 2008, that a new bill, the Aluminum Authority and Integrated Aluminum Industry Bill, now being considered by the Parliament of Ghana, is drawing heavy criticism. The bill is designed to establish an authority with regulatory and commercial functions over the aluminum industry. If this bill becomes law, the new authority will not only have the “power both to undertake the evaluation of applications and to make grants in respect of bauxite rights,” but will also enjoy immunity from parliamentary oversight. In addition, the Authority will hold at least 25% equity in a joint venture company to mine bauxite.
According to Third World Network-Africa (TWN-Africa), an Accra, Ghana-based research and advocacy organization, the passage of this bill would have “grave implications for the mineral sector.” The coordinator of TWN-Africa, Dr. Yao Graham, stated that the arrangement in which the Authority will have both final regulatory and commercial functions will inevitably lead to corruption. In addition, Graham says, the establishment of an institution solely for bauxite will create confusion in matters of oversight responsibility with the Minerals Commission, an institution whose primary responsibility is to foster the efficient and effective regulation and management of the utilization of Ghana's mineral resources.
TWN-Africa questioned the motive behind creating a special institution for bauxite, in view of the fact that there is “no history of deficiencies in the current institutional arrangement,” and called for “deliberation and democratic consultation before government and Parliament proceed on the Bill.” (Ebenezer Hanson, Ghana: TWN Alarmed over Bauxite Bill, PUBLIC AGENDA, Dec. 15, 2008, available at http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200812151278.html.)