What the State Does, Why It Does It and the Consequences:A Comparative Analysis of State Policy Choices in the Cocoa, Timber and Gold Mining Sectors in Ghana




Osae-Kwapong, John David

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This study examines the differences in state policy choices used to manage three key export commodities: cocoa, timber, and gold in Ghana. I examine the policy choices along three decision points and question- a) why the state retains no rights to cocoa but retains rights to timber and gold at the point of ownership; b) why cocoa growing, timber harvesting and gold mining are all undertaken by private actors and not a state-owned enterprise at the point of production; and c) why the state uses producer price fixing in the cocoa sector, a guiding selling price mechanism in the timber sector and a fiscal regime of taxes and fees in the gold mining sector as the primary mechanism for extracting rents at the point of sale. Treating the state as the central actor in society, I draw on interviews, surveys and secondary data to show that the state is motivated by different factors ( key and enabling) within and across each of the sectors thereby giving it different levels of control over the resource sector. I argue that by carefully unpacking the key and enabling factors driving state policy choices in the cocoa, timber and gold mining sectors, it shows when greater state control is more desirable and instances where it is less desirable in managing resources that serve as key export commodities. I further argue that these policy choices and the resulting level of state control has several consequences for both the state and those in society whose everyday lives depend on working in the resource sectors namely cocoa farmers and workers in timber and gold-mining companies. The study has several implications, particularly for how the state is understood within the context of the resource curse discourse.



Natural resource management