The government of Ghana, through the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (GHEITI) and its partners, has launched Ghana’s Opening Extractive Programme (OEP) to, among other things, advance the beneficial ownership transparency programme in the country.
This initiative is part of efforts to address corruption risks and enhance transparency in the business climate in the country, the Ministry of Finance has said.
Ghana is among nine countries globally piloting this initiative with the collective aim of tackling corporate opaqueness.
The other eight countries are Argentina, Indonesia, Liberia, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Philippines, and Zambia.
In a speech read on his behalf at the launch, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr John Ampontuah Kumah, noted that obscurity of ownership in the extractive sector remains an impediment to Ghana’s quest to clamp down on money laundering and evasion of tax.
“Corporate anonymity remains the major obstacle in the fight against money laundering, corruption, and illicit financial flows. The crosscutting benefits of beneficial ownership transparency in combatting tax evasion and promoting safe trading and investment are also well documented”, he noted.
The Deputy Minister, who is also the Member of Parliament for the Ejisu constituency, expressed the hope that beneficial ownership transparency would, to a large extent, lead to an increase in revenue, as the initiative will expose evaders and enforce tax compliance in the extractive sector.
“Today’s occasion is a significant step in the government of Ghana’s efforts to tackle corruption and increase domestic revenue mobilisation necessary to finance the Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda.
He said the initiative will enable Ghanaian citizens, CSOs, media, MDAs and competent authorities to know who exactly owns and controls companies and therefore be able to “follow the money” and hold companies and individuals accountable.
“By reducing the scope for corruption, transparency of the beneficial owners of companies increases the chances that revenue from extractive projects will be used for development, rather than the enrichment of the few”, he emphasised.
The chairman for the occasion, Dr Emmanuel Steve Asare Manteaw, a policy analyst, noted that to achieve success with this initiative, there was the need for regulating agencies like Registrar-General’s Department, Petroleum Commission, Minerals Commission, EOCO, FIC to coordinate to have a due diligence system that can verify information received from supposed owners within the extractive sector.
Key stakeholders in attendance were Registrar-General’s Department, Ghana Chamber of Mines, Civil Society Organisations, development partners from the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, and officials from the Ministry of Finance.