Pres Seeks Australian help against ‘galamsey’

Mr. Andrew Barnes Australian High Commissioner

Mr. Andrew Barnes Australian High Commissioner

In the quest to reclaim farm lands destroyed by illegal mining, President John Dramani Mahama yesterday called for foreign partnership, especially from Australia.

Describing as regrettable, the immense destruction caused to farm lands and water bodies through illegal mining, popularly known as “galamsey,” he said the government was committed to fixing the mess by reclaiming all affected lands.

He, however said it needed the immense experience and expertise of countries like Australia, for support to effectively deal with the menace.

In that regard, President Mahama urged the new Australian High Commissioner in Accra, Mr. Andrew Barnes, to support the government’s efforts to secure Australia’s assistance for the reclamation project.

President Mahama made the request when he received the Letter of Credence from Mr. Barnes, at the Flagstaff House in Accra.

Mr. Barnes was among 11 new envoys who presented their Letters of Credence to President Mahama yesterday.

The President that “Australia had immense expertise in mining”, and said Ghana was ready to tap into that expertise.  He added that the government would continue to work with the Australian government in all other sectors.

Responding to the toast Mr. Barnes assured the President of his preparedness to support the land reclamation project.

“We believe Australian mining companies have a lot to offer in that regard,” he said, adding that social responsibility and environmental management were requirements that were strictly enforced in his country.

The other envoys were Mr. Andras Szabo, Hungary; Mr. Christoph Retzlaff, Germany; Mohammed Maiga, Mali; Mr. Gerald Strikker, The Netherlands; Ms. Heather Anne, Canada; Mr. Acisclo Valladares, Guatemala; Lt.-Gen. Agha Mohammed Umer Farooq, Pakistan; Mr. Hugues Chantry, Belgium; Mr. Gustavo Alejandro Dzugala, Argentina; and Mr. Giovanni Favilli, Italy.

President Mahama expressed delight at the strong ties and productive bilateral relationship between Ghana and all the 11 countries, and urged the envoys to help in consolidating that through innovative and development- oriented projects.

He said the government looked forward to economic partnership with the respective countries, adding that Ghana was determined to explore opportunities offered by the growing bilateral relationships.

The other envoys, for their part, assured the President of their commitment to building on the foundations laid by their predecessors.

They also commended Ghana for the socio-economic progress, and wished the country successful general elections in December.

For instance, the Italian envoy, Mr. Favilli, said his country appreciated Ghana for its substantial socio-economic progress in recent years, describing the strengthening of democratic institutions, stabilisation of the economy, implementation of economic reforms, as well as the implementation of the International Monetary Fund programme, as remarkable achievements.

“We fully support every initiative aimed at further improving the business environment and the ease of doing business. Trade, more than aid, is now needed to consolidate Ghana’s position as a lower middle-income country,” he stated.

By Edmund Mingle

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