Illegal trading quashes gold supply

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The Attorney General has been looking into the cause of the decreasing gold supply on the legal market and has found that around 40 gold extractors have not been selling gold despite obtaining a gold detector machine, in Gambela.
Furthermore, gold and other minerals are being used to smuggle illegal items or obtain foreign currency. Because minerals are transported easily, they are often used for illegal activities. According to the research, Piassa, 22 Mazoriya, Merkato and some international hotels are places where minerals are illegally traded.
Some retail shops obtain minerals illegally as they are not obligated to declare their sources. These shops often don’t use VAT receipts, to avoid taxes.
There is also an issue of armed groups from neighboring countries who are part of the illicit transactions. This usually occurs in regional states close to the border areas. For example, Dima Woreda in Gambela regional state is mentioned as a place where outside groups sell gold illegally.
The machine which is used to indicate where potential gold accumulations exist is often smuggled into the country. Most of the time this machine and other contraband enters through the Togochale Custom Gate and Moyale.
Mines are being used to accumulate wealth, or move it around as well as a means to obtain foreign exchange, according to the research. Starting in 2013/14, illegal transactions increased dramatically in six regional states which extract gold. In 2010/11 Oromiya extracted 2411.124 Kg gold, 3327 in 2012/13, and 21.57 in 2017/18. The SNNP which collected the latest amount the past fiscal year which is 270.861 kg collected 877.8822kg in 2010/11 and 546.987kg in 2012/13. Tigray extracted 1918.913kg gold in 2010/11, 2298.5278 in 2012/13 and 201.5789 in 2017/18.
The main reasons illegal transaction occur are: weak monitoring and security measures taken by the government in all levels of the administration, a high retention rate for successful investors,and that retailers can obtain and renew licenses without obtaining a competency certificate. This has encouraged them to operate unethically. There is a law regulating the source of gold retailers but it is not being used and so the opposite is happening. There are no follow-ups on their sources and the administration doesn’t know where they obtain the gold which has led to large losses of government revenue.
The recent law forbids individuals from extracting gold and commands them to form a small and micro-enterprises but the Tigray regional state was seen giving licenses to extractors and traders without following regulations.
Licensed miners bring international buyers and conduct commission works with them to supply the mined minerals to the international market, overpassing the legal chain drawn by the government. The unfair price of the National Bank to purchase gold encourages miners to sell on the black market, according to the research.
Using Bole International Airport gold is being transported to the UAE, China, and India. There are also those that smuggle gold by land conspiring with check point and border customs employees.
The paper finally recommends that the Custom Commission, Ministry of Revenue, Police, Ministry of Mines and other stakeholders to work together and propose a sustainable way to solve the problem.
The National Bank of Ethiopia(NBE) which has branches in Gold Mining regions, now receives less than 50 grams of gold per day. That amount was 10 to 25kg a year ago. The bank also received less than USD 90 million in the last fiscal year but some years ago that figure was USD 600 million.
The Bank’s gold buying branches in Shire, Dema, Gambela, Mizan Tepi, Pawi, Assosa, Hawassa, and Shakiso sometimes go two or three days a week without a transaction.
As major gold supplying companies including MIDROC have stopped extracting gold because of political instability, the sector has begun being led by traditional miners.
The gold was extracted and explored for by 170 small companies. They were PLC licensed and around 50 percent of these firms are foreign companies, while 25 percent of them are joint ventures between local and foreign businesses and the remaining are local enterprises.
According to Ministry of Mines and Energy illegal gold trading helps some businesspeople move their money out of the country and some government employees are also collaborating with these illegal actors.
The ministry wrote a letter to the Prime Minister asking for solutions; they want to host a meeting and discuss the matter with gold and petroleum stakeholders.