The Federal Government through the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development is implementing policies and programmes aimed at restoring the sector to the enviable position it held before the discovery of crude oil, the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah has said, adding that the country was then one of the 8th mining nations of the world.
Dr Sampson Ogah who made this known when he paid a courtesy visit to the Chairman, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Engr Elias Mbam, in Abuja, recently, said the meeting was to deepen the existing collaboration between his Ministry and the Commission.
He disclosed that the Minerals and Metals sector is very critical in achieving the diversification of the economy and poverty alleviation bid of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration but noted that the sector needed more funding to develop required infrastructures that would attract investment.
He said the Ministry has put measures in place to block revenue leakages, as well as organize the artisanal miners into Cooperatives with a view to curb illegal mining and ensure that the right revenue is derived from their operations. Also, he said a Task Force made up of security agencies is in place to ensure security for miners and mining sites across the nation.
A press statement signed by the Director, Press, Mr Edwin Opara quoted the minister as saying that ‘the administration has put in place policies that ensures that nobody takes any solid mineral out of the country without pre-shipment evaluation,’ adding that the policy aims to ensure that the right revenue is paid to government coffers.
He noted that mining could provide 23% employmemt if properly funded and appealed to the Commission to increase the Natural Resource Fund from its current 1.6% share from the Federation account in order to get needed fund to develop the sector and attract investment in minerals like coal that is laying fallow in some states.
In his response, the Chairman, Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Engr Elias Mbam, affirmed that the Ministry is critical in the diversification of the economy and assured of the Commission’s committment to partner with it.
Engr Mbam requested that the Ministry should involve the Commission’s staff in the states offices in monitoring mining activities and revenue collection in states, saying information obtained from such exercise would help give the Commission right data to work with.
He suggested that a Joint Technical Committee between the Ministry and Commission be set up to harmonize all revenue collected to ensure such revenue get paid into the federation account.