General News of 2014-05-24

Anglogold is blackmailing gov’t - Pratt

Managing Director of the Insight Newspaper, Kwesi Pratt, has described the decision by Anglogold Ashanti to retrench its workers as an attempt by the company to blackmail the government for more concessions.

“I suspect that what is happening is that following recent instructions across the country for government to renegotiate mining rights, these companies are beginning to blackmail the government into giving them more concessions, that’s all that is happening,” Mr. Pratt explained.

Anglogold Ashanti announced its intentions of retrenching its workers due to what it describes as rising cost of production, under performance of employees and unstable world market price of gold.

But speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Pratt criticized the intended action, describing it as totally shocking and a shabby treatment of its employees.

“The people of Obuasi are not a piece of burden only to be employed when things are going well. The people of Obuasi are the owners of that resource, they are the owners of the gold and the shabby treatment of these people by Anglogold Ashanti is totally shocking,” said Mr. Pratt.

Mr. Pratt also questioned why the company’s windfall profits were not used to keep the employees from being laid off.

“Until recently, Anglogold Ashanti and all of them were making windfall profits. Why is that some of those windfall profits cannot be ploughed back to keep workers at work, to keep the people whose resources have made them millionaires?”

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Inusah Fuseini justified the need for Anglogold Ashanti to close its Obuasi Mines.

The minister noted that the company cannot continue with its operations, taking into consideration its current circumstances.

But in a rebuttal, Mr. Pratt criticized the Minister stance, saying his comments were inappropriate and unjustifiable.

He further noted that the people of Ghana have gained next to nothing from the exploitation of their mines.” All the resources have gone out, we sign the foreign exchange retention agreement with these mining companies which enables them to keep about 90 percent of what they earn here abroad.”

According to him, research suggests that Ghana gets less than 5 percent of the total value of gold that is mined from the country.

“We are being robbed, we are totally robbed and then they (Anglogold Ashanti) come back and tell us that look, we can’t take the millions we use to make anymore, so we are going to sack your people, we are going to worsen the employment situation in the country. We are going to make the people of Obuasi go hungry in the addition to the pollution of their environment,”Mr. Pratt lamented.

In that regard, Mr. Pratt noted that the problem presents an opportunity for Ghanaians to take over their mines and exploit their own resources for their own benefit.