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07.05.2007 General News

Ato Ahwoi faults government’s move on Aboadze

By myjoyonline

A former Energy Minister in the NDC administration, Mr. Ato Ahwoi has said government was not setting its priority right in seeking to acquire additional shares in the Takoradi International Company, describing the desire as a needless obsession.

Mr. Ato Ahwoi was commenting on a government statement that it intended to take over all the shares in the Takoradi International Company, TICO, which operates two of the units that generate power at the Aboadze Thermal Plant.

CMS Energy which owns majority shares in TICO said it had already sold off its interests in the company.

The US based company has a 90 percent stake in TICO whilst government owns the remaining 50 percent with an option to increase it to 50.

Government said it was uncomfortable that the shares be off-loaded to another company without recourse to agreed terms, however Ato Ahwoi told Joy FM government should stick to its policies and not bother about which company bought the shares.

“What is wrong with CMS selling their shares to TAQA? It's a private sector company, and if your policy is that you want private sector participation, does it matter whether it is CMS or it is TAQA? Is the government peeved that they were not informed of this thing, if so is this the first time? Mobil recently was bought internationally by Total and it affected Mobil in Ghana, have we complained? Schweppes was bought internationally by Coca Cola and they've taken over the Schweppes operation in Ghana, have we complained about that? So what is all this about? And the thing is at this time when we don't even have money to bring in enough small plants to produce electricity for us, why do we want to go and put so much money into the Takoradi Plant?”

According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, government was taking steps to take over the entire 100 percent shares in the Aboadze Thermal Plant.

It said the decision was largely as a result of the way CMS Energy sought to sell off its shares to TAQA, a company based in the Middle East without government's knowledge.

However in a statement on its website CMS Energy said the sale of its ownership interests in businesses in the Middle East, Africa, and India had as of last Wednesday been sold off to the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company TAQA for 900 million dollars.

The Public Affairs Manager of CMS, Mr. Osafo Adjei told Joy FM the transfer of the shares did not in any way deprive government of its right to bring up its share holding in TICO to 50 percent.

“This view was originally premised on a 50 percent 50 percent ownership but the Volta River authority was unable at the time to procure all the 50 percent and therefore came up with only 10 percent. But the provisions in the agreement expressly states that at any point in time when the Volta River Authority is ready to acquire additional 40 to bring its percentage shares in the ownership of the Takoradi International Company to 50, negotiations would commence for that exercise to take place. As to the acquisition of 100 percent, there are various provisions in there, including the termination of the power purchasing agreement between the VRA and TICO,” he said.

Government's spokesperson on Finance and Economic Planning, Mr. Kwaku Kwarteng said the CMS statement was inconsistent with private discussions that were ongoing. He insisted that government was still going for the full takeover.

“We have done our own investigation and we know that the transaction has not closed and we have mentioned it to CMS that as we have these discussions they hive off the Ghana plant from the discussions. We have discussions with them and I am not able to disclose everything but for now what are looking to do is to take the 100 percent shares.

President Kufuor first expressed his reservations about the deal last month when the CMS boss Tom Elwad at the Castle and warned that the deal would not be recognized if CMS does not regularize the sale.

It is not clear what action government will take if indeed it turns out there are no additional shares available for it to acquire. Government however still has the option of exercising the right to terminate the power purchase agreement contained in the original which allows it to buy the entire plant and redistribute the shares amongst the shareholders.