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Aveyime Rice Project To Bounce Back June

By Daily Graphic
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One of two strategic investors is to be selected to partner the government in the revamping of the controversial Aveyime Rice Project by June this year.

Currently, proposals of the two strategic investors are being vetted by a Cabinet sub-committee and the recommendations to follow will be acted upon by the government.

The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Ernest Debrah, told the Daily Graphic in Accra at the weekend that “ a lot of work has been done to ensure that the project starts before June this year.”

Currently, all legal tussles have been dealt with and the final recommendations from the Cabinet are what are needed for work on the project to start.

Two former Ministers of State in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment by the Fast Track High Court in Accra in April 2003 after being convicted for their roles in the Quality Grain Company scandal, in which more than $20 million was lost to the state.

Mr Debrah said in 2005, after he had taken over the project and knowing the state of the legacy and its values, he did everything to ensure that due diligence was carried out.

He said an advert was placed on the DG market, an international advert agency, to ask for valuers.

The minister said valuers applied and the number was pruned down to two, a Ghanaian and a US firm, after they had submitted their financial and technical proposals.

Mr Debrah said the companies brought their valuation reports after a year following which it was advertised in the media for a strategic investor to partner the government.

He said the government was to take 51 per cent share and the companies 49 per cent, adding that it was agreed that the government's per cent should be divested to Ghanaians through the stock exchange.

“Six firms showed interest and we sent the bidding documents to all of them after which two firms were selected,” he explained.

The minister said an evaluation committee was set up to evaluate the two bids for the consideration of an entity tender committee of the ministry.

Mr Debrah said a financial sub-committee of the Cabinet will soon meet to make a final recommendation to enable work on the project to commence.

He said there had been periodic service on the machines at the site to keep them in shape. The minister dismissed the assertion that the late revival of the project was due to its geographical location, explaining that “the government does not consider geographical location in the distribution of the national cake”.

Story by Timothy Gobah

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