Two persons, a former secretary to the Komenda Sugar Project Management Board, Ransford Chatman Vanni-Amoah and former special assistant to the minister, ministry of trade & industry, Alhaji Mohammed Naziru have petitioned the appointment committee of parliament to reject the nomination of Mr Alan Kyerematen as minister-designate for trade and industry.
According to the two, the trades ministry through the former deputy minister, Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay in August 2017 “lied” about the operations of the Komenda sugar factory and Mr Kyerematen did nothing about it.
According to the two, during the vetting of Mr Ahomka-Lindsay in 2017, he told the appointment committee that “We have never put cane sugar through the full system of the Komenda Sugar. That’s the first thing we have to note,” and that the sugar Mr Samuel Atta Mills, the then MP for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem who asked a question about the factory tasted at that time, “the government of Ghana bought semi-processed sugar; then part of it was used to process, and that is part of what you tasted.”
But the petitioners said the Komenda Sugar factory produced sugar during the test run season and the former minister must provide documents to prove that the previous government purchased semi-processed sugar.
They added that the current state of the processing plant of the Komenda Sugar Factory makes it impossible to process semi-processed sugar.
The petitioners are of the view that Mr Kyerematen supervised a ministry that peddled falsehood about Komenda Sugar Factory.
“He must retract that misleading statement and render an unqualified apology to the good people of Ghana. If he insists on the statement made by his former deputy, kindly ask him to provide evidence. We can assure the committee that, he does not have any evidence to back this allegation,” the petitioner stated.
Mr Kyerematen is expected to appear before the appointment committee on Friday, 26 February 2021.
Read the full petition below:
APPOINTMENTS COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENT,
PARLIAMENT HOUSE – ACCRA
JOINT-PETITION TO REJECT THE NOMINATION OF MR. ALAN KYEREMANTEN AS A MINISTER OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
We write to petition the Appointments Committee of Parliament to reject the nomination of Mr Alan Kyerematen as a Minister of Trade and Industry.
Mr Chairman, our petition is based on the fact that the nominee engaged in negative propaganda against the now-abandoned Komenda Sugar Factory in order to discredit the previous government.
Mr Chairman, on Thursday, 10th August 2017, the Former Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament to provide answers to a report by the Auditor General pertaining to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, its allied institutions and agencies.
In the course of the proceedings of the Committee and in answering questions from members of the Committee, Mr Ahomka-Lindsay made some untrue statements which have the potential to mislead the Committee.
Mr Chairman, we wish to emphasise that the answers given by the former Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry relative to a question on the operations of the Komenda Sugar Factory, was a deliberate attempt to mislead the Committee and the good people of Ghana.
We produce below the question asked by Honourable Member of Parliament for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem Constituency, Hon. Samuel Atta Mills and the subsequent answer given to the Committee by Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay for your perusal.
‘’My name is Samuel Atta Mills and I’m the MP for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abirem. Now, let me ask about Komenda Sugar Factory. In 2016, I tasted some of the sugar from Komenda Sugar Factory. In 2016, I know that the Ministry or Parliament approved, I think about Twenty-Four million dollars to get the farmers to produce sugarcane for Komenda Sugar Factory. I drive pass it and this sugar factory is not operating. Mr. Minister, Mr. Chief Director, tell us the true state of Komenda Sugar Factory and what is going on.’’
“Chair, I’m happy to answer. I hadn't quite brought my documents. Chair, I’m led by you. Thank you very much and I want to thank the chair for the question... here is the current reality of Komenda Sugar.
• The sugar you tasted at that time, the government of Ghana bought semi-processed sugar; then part of it was used to process, and that is part of what you tasted.
• We have never put cane sugar through the full system of the Komenda Sugar. That’s the first thing we have to note.
• The second area we have to note is that, the total land area for that Komenda Sugar of 2,000 doesn't have the capacity to produce the cane sugar.
• The third area I want to talk about is that, there was a nursery started, but the nursery grew the same variety that has always been grown around the Komenda area. The Indian company that was brought in, brought in a little bit of a variety from India that they grew. But the process of a proper nursery to identify the actual variety was never done.
• So, we have currently, there were 125 acres that were set aside for nursery. 25 of it, is ready to be transplanted to the 2,000. The problem we have is that if we transplant those 25 to 2,000 is basically a waste of money because the sugar content of the variety as we know is not to the level needed to make commercial operation of Komenda.
• But in the interim, we are not going to sleep in terms of where it is. We want to look at the way of doing exactly what you referred to where you tasted the sugar. As interim, as a government we can look at bringing in perhaps a management agreement with the viewpoint of operating this even if we bring in semi-processed cane sugar, they will process it so that we get some sugar. And to that effect, I've sat down, I think I can share this, my old company, Coca-Cola Company and with Diageo, and they've agreed to work with us to make sure quality certification comes through and they will buy sugar from Komenda so that we get some upside in terms of where we are.”
Mr. Chairman, from his answer, the Former Deputy Minister made the following false claims;
1. "We have never put cane sugar through the full system of the Komenda Sugar."
2. "The Sugar you tasted at that time, the government of Ghana bought semi-processed sugar; then part of it was used to process and that is what you tasted."
3. "...but the process of a proper nursery to identify the actual variety was never done."
4. "...the problem we have is that if we transplant those 25 to 2,000 is basically a waste of money, because the sugar content of the variety as we know is not to the level needed to make commercial operation of Komenda."
Mr. Chairman, we believe all proceedings of the Committee are recorded and as such these statements would have been captured by the records of the Committee.
The facts as we know and documented with pictures and audiovisual is provided below;
1. The Komenda Sugar factory produced sugar during the test run season. The former minister must provide documents to prove that the previous government purchased semi-processed sugar.
2. The current state of the processing plant of the Komenda Sugar Factory makes it impossible to process semi-processed sugar. In fact, after the commissioning of the factory, management received proposals from other organisations willing to import raw-sugar and refine in our sugar refinery. But the Seftech India Private Limited who built the plant and have the technical know-how made management aware that, some additional technical modifications were needed to be done before any imported raw-sugar could be refined by the factory.
3. (i) The Komenda Sugar Factory procured sugarcanes from farmers within Central and Western Regions and one of the local companies contracted for haulage services was Perrilines Limited. Perrilines Limited alone hauled between 1,300 to 1,400 tons of sugarcane. Other three companies were G-Kads Limited, Hajia Schoco Company Limited and RUDAMS Consult. These sugarcanes were crushed to produce the first-ever test-run sugar for the Factory.
(ii) By the grace and mercy of God, Mr. Perry Mensah, the Managing Director of Perrilines Limited who is a known NPP member and an accomplished businessman in the Central Region is still alive and can testify that the sugar which was showcased was produced by the factory. He was also in charge of the boiler house of the factory.
(iii) Mr. Alan Kyerematen constituted an interim management team for the factory in 2019 and Mr. Perry Mensah was made a member. We believe his inclusion was due to his previous involvement in the activities of the factory.
4. The Komenda Sugar Factory produced bagasse to generate three (3) megawatts of energy for the operations of the factory. Bagasse is only obtained after the extraction of sugar-bearing juice from sugarcane. Did the former minister want to tell us that we imported the bagasse too?
5. The Komenda Sugar Factory produced molasses which is a byproduct of sugar obtained during the test run. The molasses which tested positive were in high demand by local distillers. Between 31st October and 4th November 2016, the Factory sold more than 500 barrels of molasses to the local distillers operating in communities in Central Region such as Egyaa in the Mfantseman Municipality, Kissi in the K.E.E.A Municipality and Putubiw in the Abura Asebu Kwamankese District.
6. The variety of sugarcane available in the catchment area is B41227 and it is suitable for the production of sugar.
The Degree Brix of the B41227 variety is 20%, Pol Percentage of sucrose is 12%, Purity is 80% and its Fibre is of high quality and very resistant to pests.
7. The other two Indian varieties CO-02014 and CO-86032 were brought for identification of suitable material for operation. These two varieties have parameters almost like the B41227. These were available at the factory’s 125-acre nursery farm. The Seftech Agronomists made the Management Board aware at the time that, the local variety which is B41227 is good for our climate condition and its sucrose percentage can be improved although it is above standard. This is because every suitable sugar cane should give 10% of the end product.
Mr Chairman, the facts as provided above, clearly indicate that Mr Alan Kyerematen supervised a ministry that peddled falsehood about Komenda Sugar Factory. He must retract that misleading statement and render an unqualified apology to the good people of Ghana. If he insists on the statement made by his former deputy, kindly ask him to provide evidence. We can assure the committee that, he does not have any evidence to back this allegation.
Mr Chairman, the minister also submitted a technical audit report to the house. We would like to ask the minister some questions from the report on Komenda Sugar Factory which we find very pertinent.
On page 2, item 6 in the report laid before parliament on April 4, 2019, it reads; The Technical Audit Team proposed the following as matters for consideration in developing the options for making the Komenda Sugar Development Company Ltd operational.
• Complete installation by Seftech
• Conduct trial and test runs
• Water for the factory
• Land for sugarcane cultivation
• Economics of importing raw sugar for processing.
• 6 months operation (campaign period 180 days)
• Management training
Please, we would like to ask the following questions;
1. Who constituted technical audit team?
2. Were there representatives of Seftech India Pvt Ltd (the contractor) present during the period when the technical audit was carried out?
3. Has the Government of Ghana communicated to the contractor to complete the supposed installations as stated in the report?
4. When will Seftech India Pvt Ltd come and complete the installation?
5. Since the assumption of office by the current Minister of Trade and Industry, has the plant ever been tested?
6. What is the purpose of importing raw sugar to process at the Komenda Sugar Factory?
Mr Chairman, under the Factory Valuation Report on page 8 of the Report on Komenda Sugar Factory, it was stated that the PwC (transaction adviser) provided a valuation report on 17th October 2016 which valued the cost of the plant and machinery at US$34,678,400.00. Another valuation report was submitted on 15th September 2017 which the cost of the plant and machinery depreciated to US$12,029,715.00 as an open market value and US$10,826,743.00 as a forced sale value.
1. Was this report really emanated from the PwC?
2. What caused the plant and machinery to be hugely depreciated to the sum of US$12,029,715.00, instead of legal depreciating rate of 5-10% per annum?
3. If the value of the plant and machinery could depreciate beyond 65% in 2017, what would be the value in 2020?
4. Was it a deliberate scheme by the PwC and the Ministry of Trade and Industry to run down the company to reduce its value?
5. Can this valuation report be trusted by any well-meaning Ghanaian?
Mr Chairman, we doubt this report emanated from an international recognised firm such as PwC. Because we cannot wrap our heads around the fact that the same firm conducted two separate valuations within eleven (11) months under two different regimes, and the cost of the plant and machinery could depreciate to over 65%. This does not happen anywhere. It could be somehow understandable if these valuations were done by two separate firms. We do not want to believe that PwC did this to suit the negative propaganda employed by Mr Alan Kyerematen.
Mr Chairman, it is our prayer that all issues raised would be interrogated for the purpose of transparency and accountability. The re-nomination of Mr Alan Kyerematen to the same ministry poses a serious threat to the survival of the sugar factory. We also pray that his nomination should be rejected by the Parliament of Ghana to serve as a deterrent to others. He committed the following offences:
1. Financial Loss to the State due to lack of serious attention to the factory, loss of time, inefficiency and improper decision-making.
2. Financial Loss to the State in allowing the national asset to deliberately debilitate, so as to reduce the value and to sell it cheaply.
3. There are losses to the economy from failure to operate the factory, thereby reducing national revenues from lack of job-creating, manufacturing, continued importation of sugar, reduced tax revenues, etc.
We are extremely confident that this petition would be given the needed attention as we cannot sit unconcerned for this sugar factory to rot away.
Mr Chairman, due to our previous positions at the Komenda Sugar Factory and the Minister’s Office, we shall fully cooperate with your Committee to ascertain the truth.
We are confident that you will deal with this petition in order for the Committee and the people of Ghana know about the truth of the operations of Komenda Sugar Factory.
Kindly find as attachments, documents, pictures, media reports and audiovisual evidence.
Yours in service of Mother Ghana,
RANSFORD CHATMAN VANNI-AMOAH
(FORMER MEMBER/ SECRETARY - KOMENDA SUGAR PROJECT MANAGEMENT BOARD)
(FORMER DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS & STRATEGY)
ALHAJI MOHAMMED NAZIRU
(FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE MINISTER,
MINISTRY OF TRADE & INDUSTRY)