A lot of Ghanaians will hear of the Agyapa deal but may not understand, know what it means and its operations in the country.
Two years ago, the Parliament of Ghana passed the Minerals Income Investment Fund Act 2018 which establishes the Fund to manage the equity interests of Ghana in mining companies, and receive royalties on behalf of the government.
The fund is supposed to manage and invest these royalties and revenue from equities for higher returns for the benefit of the country.
The law allows the fund to establish Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to use for the appropriate investments. Last month, the government introduced an amendment to the act to ensure that the SPVs have unfettered independence.
The approval will enable the country to use a special purpose vehicle, Agyapa Royalties Limited to secure about $1 billion to finance large infrastructural projects.
In line with that, Agyapa, which will operate as an independent private sector entity, will be able to raise funds from the capital market, both locally and internationally, as an alternative to the conventional debt capital market transactions.
The funds, which are expected to be raised from the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) and the London Stock Exchange (LSE), will be a long-term capital, without a corresponding increase in Ghana’s total debt stock and hence without a public debt repayment obligation.
Some said the deals are valued for money whiles others referred to it that it’s a stinking and corrupt deal by the government where appointees of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) are engaged to do. Pool
The Agyapa Royalties deal is part of the current government’s strategy to beat the long-standing problem of lack of capital for developmental projects.
Over the years, the government under different Executive presidencies have tried to look for money by going to the IMF, the capital market, or the international bond market.
These three main sources of capital are expensive. Interest rates on the bond markets are generally high and because the tenure is short, Ghana risks falling into high debt distress.
IMF loans have become unpopular because they usually come with restrictions. Coronavirus seems to have made loans on the capital market unattractive.
And with Ghana’s current poor credit rating and the effects of the pandemic, the government needs access to cheaper sources of capital.
A deal like the Agyapa Royalties agreement, therefore, is among the strategies governments across the world have adopted to raise money on the global financial market. It involves securitising future flows of revenue with proceeds from the extractive sector.
The controversy over the Agyapa Royalties deal started on August 14, 2020, when the Majority Members of Parliament secured the numbers to pass the agreement.
Although, the Minority staged a walked out over the deal but it was finally passed.
The government in July 2020 introduced an amendment to the Act to ensure that the SPVs that the Fund would establish to manage investments get unrestricted independence.
On the back of the amendment and the original provisions of the act, the Minerals Income Investment Fund set up an offshore limited liability company known as Agyapa Royalties Limited (previously Asaase Royalties Limited).
The Agyapa Royalties Ltd is incorporated in Bailieick of Jersey in the UK, a tax haven. It has been incorporated in a tax haven to cut out the associated high tax charges to the returns that will accrue to the state from the investments.
Agyapa Royalties Limited is registered in Ghana as an external company.
Operations of Agyapa Royalties
Agyapa Royalties Limited will trade shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange for the private market.
Mineral Income Investment Fund will remain the majority shareholder.
ARL will raise between $500 million and $750 million for the government to use for developmental initiatives – the government has revealed the four key areas of investment will be education expenditure, primary capital, health, and infrastructural development.
Future resources from gold royalties will go to ARL shareholders instead of the Mineral Investment Fund and for that matter government. Essentially, the government is mortgaging expected royalties from gold in exchange for about $500 million – $750 million from ARL.
Attorney General speaks on Agyapa deal
Recently the Attorney-General described the inability of the state to review or evaluate the effectiveness of the Agyapa Royalties deal in the future as “unconscionable”.
The deal to the Finance Minister, the Attorney General stated that the payments in respect of the agreement will be made in US dollars which violates the Bank of Ghana Act, 2016 (Act 918) which mandates that transactions be made in the currency unit of Ghana which is the cedi or its equivalent.
According to her, the manner of the deal agreed “freezes anything legal including judicial orders and decisions. In effect, no court can pronounce on any part of the agreement as being illegal, unconscionable, null, and void or on any matter before the court which may or is likely to affect any part of the agreement.”
“This will amount to executive interference of the powers of the judiciary, which is a violation of the concept of separation of powers as provided under the Constitution of Ghana. Therefore, the executive arm of government cannot enter into an agreement that curtails the independence of both the Legislature and the Judiciary.”
Civil Society Organisations also kicked against the deal.
The CSOs made an emphatic demand for a suspension of the deal until all documents relating to the beneficial owners of the deal are disclosed.
Stay tuned for more.