$10bn Chinese loan agreement could create over 100,000 jobs - Osafo Maafo

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The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo Maafo has dismissed concerns Ghana could lose out greatly in a new deal with China that could lead to a 10 billion dollar investment in the country’s bauxite industry.

If anything, the former Finance Minister said the deal would rather create more jobs and will be to the benefit of Ghanaians.

The over $10 billion agreement yet to be signed, but agreed upon in principle between the two countries, has raised a huge controversy in Ghana.

The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia announced the deal on his return from China after leading a delegation to the Asian giants last week.

The deal, in part is to leverage a portion of Ghana’s yet to be exploited bauxite reserves for cash.

As expected, the deal has been clothed in political colours with members of the opposition bastardizing the it and those in government supporting it.

With the sour experience the erstwhile NDC government had with the $3 billion Chinese loan, the NDC now in opposition has been quick to criticize the deal.

They do not understand how the NPP government can get over $10 billion loan from a Chinese government that gave only $1 billion to the NDC government when it promised to give $3 billion.

They have also questioned why the country’s bauxite reserve must be used as the collateral for the loan.

But speaking to the BBC, the Senior Minister who was part of the delegation that went to China has defended the deal.

“We are more than satisfied that this will benefit the ordinary Ghanaian because this will create employment for the ordinary Ghanaian. The creation of employment out of the exploitation of natural resources can only be beneficial to our people.

“…If you have  $460 billion worth of item and you need $10 billion to access it and create employment in the region of about 100,000 then what you must be mindful of is the price at which you barter this product for the 10 billion," Osafo Maafo said.

The political and economic arguments notwithstanding, environmentalists have also raised issues about the potential of polluting the Birim river if the Atiwa Bauxite is explored by the Chinese.

The Birim river is a major source of water supply for most people in the Eastern Region.

But in a response, Osafo Maafo said the Chinese deal will be looking more at the Nyinahin Bauxite reserve in the Ashanti Region and not the Atiwa reserve in the Eastern Region.

He said in the unlikely event that the Atiwa reservoir will be explored for Bauxite, it can be done in a way that will not affect the Birim River.