The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Abirem in the Eastern Region, John Frimpong Osei has urgently called on the government to expedite action on the full implementation of the Minerals Development Fund (MDF) Act (Act 912) to help offer alternative livelihoods to the growing number of unemployed youth in the mining communities.
The Abirem MP said since the passage of the Minerals Development Fund Act in 2016 by the previous government, the Act giving birth to the Fund was still dormant leaving many youth in the mining communities frustrated.
According to Mr Osei, Act 912 requests that 20% of mining royalties received by the government be allocated to the various mining communities with a national board constituted to manage and oversee the disbursement of the fund
The Abirem MP made the call on Tuesday in statement on the floor of parliament.
“Mr Speaker, the delay in the implementation of the MDF Act is becoming a source of grave concern for the intended beneficiaries which is invariably postponing the opportunities it would have offered to these communities to lift themselves out of poverty and deprivation,” he said.
Hon Frimpong Osei who is representing a mining constituency where Newmont (Abirem) is located said until the MDF Act is fully implemented, people living in the mining communities will continuously remain shortchanged without any alternative livelihoods.
“Mr speaker, it is disheartening to see the unemployed youth in the Abirem constituency, particularly those in the communities affected by mining, desperately looking for non-existent job opportunities,” he said adding that even though some forms of compensation have been paid to affected farmers, majority of the unemployed youth and middle-aged farmers whose lands have been ceded to the mining companies face the unbearable realities of life.
He therefore appealed to the government to quicken the processes for the full implementation of the Act whilst the mining companies re-look at the plights of the people in the mining communities and further support them to earn a decent living through the provision of alternative livelihoods.
A Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources and NPP MP for Atwima Nwabiagya North, Benito Owusu-Bio, said the government is very much concerned about the issue raised by the Abirem MP stressing that the NPP government has set up an office for the Minerals Development Fund and the list of names of people appointed to be on MDF Board has also been presented to the Council of State for endorsement for the Board to be inaugurated.
He said when the NDC was leaving office, it left arrears of GH¢92 million which should have been paid into the fund and that the NPP government is committed to ensuring that the Fund becomes fully operational to benefit the mining communities.