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30.01.2007 General News

Oil palm PSI going..going..

By (ghanaian-chronicle)
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As Allan joins the rat race for Castle…. Branch owes Area Rural Bank over ¢200million …. National Secretariat denies responsibility to pay

The President's Special Initiative (PSI) on oil palm at Bechem in the Tano South District of the Brong Ahafo Region is now a white elephant, as all field staff have abandoned the project due to non-payment of wages and salaries.

The Chronicle sources have revealed that workers have not been paid for almost nine months and currently they have nobody to complain to, because reports reaching them indicate that the District coordinators of the PSI nationwide have been indirectly dismissed.

The paper gathered that all PSI District Coordinators across the nation were asked to leave their post and submit reports and documents on all items in their possession to the national headquarters by the end of September last year.

The PSI on oil palm workers at Bechem, disclosed that they were in a great dilemma because, they are to repay a total amount of over ¢200million to the Bomaa Area Rural Bank at Bechem.

The paper can disclose that the workers debt came about when the Management of the Bechem PSI on Oil Palm negotiated with the bank that all the monetary transactions between the district and the National Headquarters of the PSI would be channeled through them.

The deal was agreed as expected and things went on well at the initial stages, but it came to a time that monies for the project were not forthcoming as expected, which troubled the management and staff of the PSI.

Based on the strong pressure mounted by the staff on the management of the PSI, they contacted the Bomaa Area Rural Bank for another deal, appealing to the bank to continue paying the salaries and wages of the staff, so that when the monies are paid from the headquarters, the bank could deduct that from source.

The Bomaa Area Rural Bank accepted the proposal and entered into such an agreement, but was alarmed when for almost six months nothing was heard and the monies were also not forthcoming.

The management of both the PSI on Oil Palm at Bechem and that of the Bank met to discuss the matter, where the management of the PSI appealed that they should be given some time to verify from their Headquarters what was happening after which they would get back to them.

The Bechem PSI were told by the Headquarters that there were no documents to prove that such an agreement between the PSI and the Bomaa Rural Bank, involving over ¢200million existed. The PSI headquarters further advised the Bechem PSI to present available documents to substantiate their indebtedness to the bank.

When The Chronicle contacted the bank's management, it confirmed Bechem PSI's indebtedness to the bank arising out of giving them credit lines due to the national nature of the project.

The bank explained that they were convinced and agreed to the deal because the Bechem PSI were using the letter heads of the National PSI which indicated that everything was genuine.

The bank management however expressed surprise upon hearing the PSI secretariat's reluctance to recognise the deal because it was not documented, and therefore calling on the workers to repay the debt of the branch.

The National Coordinator of the PSI, Mr. Kwame Addae, when contacted on phone admitted that the National Secretariat was not aware of the deal between the bank and the Bechem PSI, and believes it was just a verbal one, which according to him was not professional on the part of the two parties.

Pressed further to respond to the issues raised, the National Coordinator advised this Reporter to come to Accra to make the enquiries rather than on phone.

However the workers cried that if the National Headquarters says they have to repay the monies themselves, then the PSI should pay them first for them to further settle their debts to enjoy their peace.

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