The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel Abu Jinapor, says government’s priority is to ensure effective protection, preservation and utilisation of the lands and natural resources of the country.
He said, by the Constitution, these lands and natural resources are the property of the people of Ghana, and “Government’s duty is a fiduciary one which requires a responsible and intelligent management” of the resources for the benefit of the people of Ghana.
The Minister was speaking at a press briefing organised by the Ministry of Information in Accra yesterday to brief the general public on developments at his ministry.
Touching on some of the policies being implemented by the ministry in the mining sector, he said government had adopted a new local content policy, which had resulted in an increase of goods and services reserved for Ghanaians from 29 to 41.
This, he said, would ensure that some $2 billion, which would have otherwise been exported, is retained in Ghana.
Small scale mining
On small scale mining, Mr Jinapor said government had adopted a two-pronged approach, “that is, law enforcement and reformation, to sanitise the sector”.
He cited some of the innovative policies as the introduction of the mercury-free gold processing equipment, the revamping of the Community Mining Schemes, the tracking of earthmoving and mining equipment, and the procurement of speedboats to patrol river bodies.
He further reaffirmed government’s commitment to diversifying the mineral resource base of the country, particularly lithium and other green minerals, and adding value to ensure that Ghana reaped the full benefits from its natural resources.
In the forestry sector, Mr. Jinapor said government’s overarching policy is to protect forests and wildlife resources, adding “it is also to restore the lost forest cover”.
According to him, policies such as the Green Ghana Project, the ban on the harvesting and trading in Rosewood, the Forest Investment Programme, the REDD+ Programme and the Cocoa and Forest Initiative are all geared towards realising this goal.
He also revealed that a committee would be inaugurated next week to implement a new ‘Green Street Project’, aimed at planting trees in the median and avenues of all regional capitals in the country.
The Minister said government is committed to the digitisation of the records of the Lands Commission to ensure an effective, transparent, responsive and orderly land administration steeped in integrity.
This, he said, is being done alongside decentralising the work of the Lands Commission, to ensure efficient service delivery.
He said the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands had also developed an online application to improve management of stool and skin lands.
Mr Jinapor said a Public Lands Protection Team has been constituted at the Ministry to protect public lands from encroachment and recover those that have already been encroached.
He warned those in the business of encroaching on public lands to desist from same, as under the new Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036), it is a criminal offence to encroach on public lands.
“We will not hesitate in demolishing unauthorised structures on public lands as we are required to do by law. And where appropriate, we will, in addition to the demolishing, prosecute the encroachers,” he said.