A member of the Commonwealth Association of Lawyers, Sam Okudzeto, has stressed the need for the state to ensure it gains the most out of its natural resources.
Speaking at an event held by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) of Ghana’s Constitutional Pathway, the legal luminary noted the need for the country to focus on generating revenue through the effective use of its natural resources instead of taxes.
“Nobody invented democracy, it evolved as human nature, where people divide themselves into factions. But the end is that there is only one nation and no matter the party you think you belong to, the welfare of the country is essential. The issue is that what does a country actually own when you come to seriously think about it? It comes back to the fact of the natural resources that you were making reference to, because otherwise there is nothing that the government actually has.
“The concept that you can go and tax the people, and tax the people to me is completely nonsensical. Because how much can you tax people? How many actually earn enough to be able to pay tax and have anything left?” he questioned.
He noted that while the state is limited in how much it can generate through taxes, there is a lot that can be realized through the management of natural resources, hence the need to adopt laws that achieve such purposes.
“So it is the natural resources which actually belong to the state. And I have taken the position that the constitution is clear that all minerals belong to the state and is held in trust as you said correctly by the president in trust for the benefit of who? – the people.
“Now, we have come to a situation whereby we negotiate with foreigners to come and exploit the minerals we have and then they pay us royalties. And the question that I have raised is how can you have a property and then somebody comes and is paying royalty for something which is yours?” he further questioned.
Ghana, despite its abundant reserve of natural resources, has over the years failed to effectively utilize the minerals for its development.
Various communities in Ghana where resources such as gold are mined remain impoverished due to poverty and lack of development.