The Management of Tiberias Ghana Limited, majority shareholders of the Ayensu Starch factory has rejected claims that it has abandoned the facility.
The company in a statement said it has gone to great lengths to ensure that the plant is running after it took over the factory in 2016.
“So far, Tiberias has invested over 20 million in retooling and refurbishing the factory to improve its operations and increase yield for the ready market because of the quality of starch it produces,” the company added in a statement.
While answering questions on the Floor of Parliament last week, Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kyerematen expressed dissatisfaction about the way Tiberias was managing the factory.
According to Alan Kyerematen, Tiberias, an affiliate of the Jospong group, bought 70 percent of government shares in the company in August 2016 at 4.5 million dollars with an initial amount of 2.2 million dollars.
The remaining amount, according to the Minister, has not been settled, while the factory has been abandoned with no compensation for the workers.
Alan Kyerematen said the government is seeking to legally restore its ownership of the company and place it under the one district one factory policy for job creation.
“The company has failed or refused to fulfil its obligations under the purchase agreement. In the light of these and other developments, the Ministry through the transaction advisers informed the company of its decision to take over the Ayensu Factory …The company subsequently communicated its refusal to hand over the factory to the Ministry. We are currently seeking legal advice on the next line of action to take to restore the company.”
But management of the factory disputed the Minister’s claims.
“Management would like to state respectfully, that the presentation made by the Minister [of Trade] did not give a true picture of the facts on the grounds in terms of the operations of the Ayensu Starch Factory and its current state of affairs,” the statement issued by the Communications Directorate of the company stated.
Tiberias in the statement said per the arrangement, the two partners [Tiberias and government] were to set up a Board to oversee the operations of the factory.
The company said it presented members to the Ministry but the government is yet to appoint its members.
“That notwithstanding, Tiberias has gone to great lengths to ensure that the plant is running and workers were paid their salaries from 2016 to June 2018, when government took up some of the payment without recourse to the majority shareholder.”
The company in the statement also added that upon realizing that there were major mechanical problems with the factory, after taking over, it has invested a lot of money “into re-engineering, refurbishing and, retooling of the plant to make it fully operational.”
“This process is expected to be completed by August 2019. Also, two international companies one from Denmark and the other a Dutch company based in Thailand, have been engaged to undertake thorough investigations into the frequent breakdown of the plant which has resulted in the dormant nature of the company.”
Tiberias Ghana limited further said it has acquired over 10,000 acres of land to ensure that once the mechanical problems are resolved there will be a constant supply of the raw material (cassava) to feed the factory.
It, however, lamented lack of support from the Ministry despite the government’s 30% stake in the factory.
“Support from the Ministry has however not been forthcoming as the Ministry seizes every opportunity to denigrate Tiberias and its owners with no consideration for the huge investments the company has made to restore full operations. We have always and will continue to collaborate with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to build a viable company and contribute our quota to the development of a vibrant starch industry in Ghana,” the statement added.