Civil Society Organizations advocating for free – Corruption Uganda wants the Government to come up with strong measures that will curb corruption and human rights abuses in the extractive industry.
Marion Agaba the head of programmes at the Anti-corruption Coalition Uganda told East African Business Week that lack of transparency in the sector over many years has made Uganda a mineral trafficking hub (especially Gold) alongside losing millions of dollars from the sector due to under-declaring of both imported and exported minerals like Gold.
“The Extractive Industry is growing at a very high rate due to its business value, but it’s being dominated by the Artisan miners.
“This makes it very difficult to track the outputs and determine the number of royalties drawn from the sector.
“For instance the Directorate of Geological Surveys and Mines the body responsible for inspecting mines issued out Gold export permits for 16,281 kilograms, compared to records from the Uganda Revenue Authority which indicated that 8,692 Kilograms of gold valued at US$ 339.09 Million were exported from Uganda in the financial year 2016/2017.
“This presents contradictions on the value of gold exported from the country,” said Agaba during a media briefing at their offices in Ntinda.
According to Agaba, this implies that Uganda lost revenues ranging $3.39M to $16.95M in royalties from the under-declared gold exports and imports depending on the application rates of 1% and 5% for the imported or locally mined gold respectively.
The Mining Act of 2003 Section 104(1) provides for penalties on royalty defaulter ranging from barring the culprits from conducting any business in relation to mining until outstanding fees are paid or until an agreement for payment of royalties acceptable to the commissioner has been made.
However, East African Business Week’s effort to get a comment from the Director of Geological Surveys and Mines at the Directorate of Geological Surveys and Mines in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Zachary Baguma was futile as his known mobile number was off by press time.
But recently in a separate event, the Assistant Commissioner Geology in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Gabriel Data told journalists that Uganda has signed the Extractive Industries Transparency Infinitive which will compel the government to implement the principle of transparency in the extractive industry.
The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is an international, multi-stakeholder initiative that promotes transparency and accountability in the oil, gas and mining sectors through the disclosure of government and company data in resource-rich countries.
Apart from Uganda losing millions of shillings through under-declared gold Business, the Civil Society actors also raised the issues of violation of people’s rights, especially where mining activities are taking place.
Elizabeth Kulume the programme Assistant, Transparency International Uganda said many Ugandans are becoming victims of the Extractive Industry.
“Thousands of Ugandan Families have faced forceful evictions for example in Mubende district.
“Some 5000 families in the Villages of Myanzi, Kitenga among other villages were evicted from their land and it’s the same happening in Karamoja regions because they reside on top of what are believed to be huge gold deposits,” She explained.
She added that even where gold mining is taking place, the local governments are not getting their shares to inform of royalties which contradict with the Laws of Uganda.
Extractive activities have a lot of negative Impacts to the locals especially on the Environment, Health and Infrastructures such as roads.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO