Thursday, July 26, 2012

STC Folds Up August

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By William Yaw Owusu
Accra, Tuesday  July 24, 2012
Barring any last minute financial intervention, the state-owned Intercity STC will cease operations in August.

The company needs about GH¢7 million to remain solvent until December 2012.

Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), which owns equity shares of about 80 per cent in Inter City STC, has declared its intention to pull out of the beleaguered company.

In the past, SSNIT intermittently helped Intercity STC to offset its debt, but according to Cyrus De Graft Johnson, Communications Manager of Intercity STC, management presented a proposal to Cabinet for Government to support the company with GH¢7 million until December, but no response has been given.

He told BUSINESS GUIDE that the amount would be used for the payment of salaries of staff and settlement of debt it owes other institutions.

“If the government supports us with the amount, we can stand on our feet up until December. We are capable of making a projected GH¢400,000 profit within that period,” he said.

Mr. De Graft Johnson said for the past three months, salaries of staff of the company had not been paid, noting that the development had affected output since morale and motivation was low.

He said the once vibrant company currently owes banks and other suppliers over GH¢4 million, adding “there is a longstanding debt and the situation is not getting any better.”

The Communications Manager said certain aspects of the company’s operations including parcel services and vehicle valuation as well as maintenance had helped to keep the company on its feet in recent times.

Currently, Intercity STC has a fleet of 47 buses on its normal routes but there is uncertainty about the fate of the 557 workers of the company.
The company pays GH¢7,500 weekly to JA Plantpool which recently supplied it with buses. 

The company was forced to make weekly payment under the agreement because it failed to honour its purchasing agreement with JA Plantpool, which seized 10 of its buses following a court order.

SSNIT’s decision to discontinue its support to Intercity STC would adversely affect Ghana’s transport sector.

“We are no more interested in STC. The agreement that established the shares said if we want to offload, the first option should go to Government of Ghana. 

And since we are no more interested, we’ve written to government that we are no more interested so we want to offload our shares. So if it is interested, we wouldn’t mind repaying the money by installment. We are awaiting its response,” Corporate Affairs Director of SSNIT, Eva Amegashie, told an Accra-based radio station recently.

While some experts believe public-private partnership could help rescue Intercity STC, others are of the opinion that if the government decides to put the company on sale, it should solely be private.

The Minister of Transportation, Collins Dauda recently put the final nail in the coffin of Intercity STC when he said that he would recommend to the government to stop running the company.

“One thing that must be very clear is that in making my recommendation to Cabinet, I’ll not recommend to government that it should continue to run STC. 

I’ll certainly not. I’ll ask for private sector participation in the management of STC because several companies run transport businesses in Ghana...and they are doing very well. So one wonders why that of government is not performing,” Mr Dauda said.

“Anything owned by government lacks supervision and in doing business, if your ability to supervise is not good enough you better don’t venture. If you find that the private sector is better placed to do it, get the private sector to do it for you. 

“This ministry has a history. We used to have Ghana Airways, where is it? We used to have Black Star Line, where is it? STC is the next on line. Railways is gone. And you know the attitude of Ghanaians towards state-owned businesses.”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Insurance Penetration Low

Rev. Dr. Fred Deegbe (Left) with George Kojo Addison, Managing Director of Star Life Assurance Company Limited at the forum.

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By William Yaw Owusu

Accra, Thursday July 19, 2012.

 Insurance penetration in the country continues to record low rates due to lack of appreciation for the product and service.

According to George Kojo Addison, Managing Director of Star Life Assurance Company Limited, insurance penetration is less than one per cent.

Opening the first ever welfare seminar targeted at churches and the Christian community to get them to strengthen their welfare schemes through insurance, Mr. Addison said the insurance companies were capable of mobilizing capital for economic development internally.

“We always contract loans and seek donor support outside the country but these long term funds are available here in the country. We have to strengthen our insurance system to be able to mobilize these funds and not always depend on external funds.”

Themed “Financial Management in the Kingdom of God,” he said apart from using insurance for economic development the churches could use insurance schemes to improve the welfare of their members.

 “As inspired by our vision to be pacesetters in creating wealth and a fulfilling life through personal relationships with our partners, we would like to reach out to the Christian community in our bid to help find lasting solution to the old age problem of welfare management in our churches.”

Mr. Addison said the company was committed to forging a lasting and beneficial partnership between the insurance industry and the churches to build what he called “sustainable and reliable” welfare schemes for the churches.

Rev. Dr. Fred Deegbe, General Secretary of the Christian Council speaking on the topic ‘The role of leadership in financial management in the Kingdom of God,’ noted that the time has come for churches to strengthen their financial management and bring positive dividends to members.

He said the churches have no excuse not to embark on investments that would be beneficial to their members.

Woyome Strikes Again!

Alfred Abgesi Woyome  

By William Yaw Owusu

 Accra, Thursday July 19, 2012.

 Barely 24 hours after an Accra High Court rejected his writ to join other respondents in his contempt suit, David Annan, a member of the NDC legal team filed fresh suit citing some political and media personalities for commenting on the never-ending Woyome judgement debt saga.

 Woyome through his lawyer is asking the court to commit the respondents to contempt in a further attempt to gag people from speaking about the alleged fraudulent payments made to him.

The current suit filed on July 13, 2012 is citing leading members of the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) including Abu Ramadan and Henry Asante of People’s National Convention (PNC), Bright Acheampong, Davis Opoku of the NPP and Daniel Nii Kwartei Titus-Glover of the Young Patriots.

The media personalities cited are Multimedia Group Limited and its proprietor, Kwesi Twum, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah of Joy FM and Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Managing Editor of the News Crusading Guide.

 David Annan who is also a member of the legal team defending Alfred Agbesi Woyome, self styled NDC financier who is on trial over GH¢51.2 million judgement debt wants the court to commit the defendants for contempt for “the deliberate interference in the administration of justice.”

In his 51-point affidavit, Mr. Annan avers on behalf of Woyome that he is the additional counsel for Woyome and Chris Akummey, another member of the NDC legal team in the suits of “The Attorney-General versus Alfred Agbesi Woyome” and “Chris Achmann Akummey versus Mr. J.A. Kufuor and two others.”

According to Woyome; Ramadan, Asante, Acheampong and Opoku “have consistently and persistently been intruding in the court cases, making unsavoury and prejudicial comments.”

He said that “the statements connote that it is wrong to pay judgment debt or to prioritise their payment and therefore a government that is paying court mandated debts is wantonly abusing state loans grants and tax payers’ monies.”

He said the AFAG leaders held a news conference on July 10, 2012 and “brazenly and blatantly passed judgement in pending or filed court cases with deliberate or careless abandon and notified the public of their rulings and judgements.”

The applicant said “the clear and open invitation to the general public is that valid binding court judgements findings and orders should be defied and cast aside on the instructions of the respondents because they have decreed the court orders and judgement debts are tainted with corruption.”

In the case of Multimedia, Kwasi Twum and Oppong Nkrumah, the applicant says they published on their website (Joy FM) the statement read at the news conference and also published a police caution statement of Woyome.

Mr. Annan averred on behalf of Woyome that Oppong Nkrumah aided and abetted Kweku Baako by reading aloud extracts of the police caution statement of Woyome and therefore they “actively facilitated the commission of the interference with legal proceedings.”

He said Multimedia and Nkrumah “actively and intentionally” facilitated the commission of the interference with legal proceedings by Baako when he (Baako) allegedly read out the police caution statement even before it was used in the Woyome’s criminal trial.

He says Baako should be committed for publishing and reading aloud the extract of the police caution statement of Woyome. “That not content with this contumacious conduct the 8th respondent flippantly passed comments on the statement of accused he had read.” On Titus-Glover, Woyome says he presented a petition to the Ghana High Commissioner in London, UK titled “Retrieval of unlawful judgement debt paid.”

 “Without any criminal finding against Alfred Woyome of fraud or unprecedented corruption, the 9th respondent made statements in the petition.”

He says that “all respondents have made statement or caused or permitted statements that by their construction meaning, purpose and intent have or are likely to interfere with the course of justice.”

 “By inciting public opinion against a party so as to affect his conduct of his case or the assertion of his rights the respondents have put at risk the accused right to fail trial.”