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21.11.2007 Business & Finance

Sale of timber firm causes stir

By The Enquirer

Fresh evidence emanating from investigations by The Enquirer into the divestiture of Western Veneer and Lumber Company (WVLC) at Sekondi in the Western Region has revealed that the company was given out for $3.5million.

The amount has been described by insiders as "outrageous" because a number of timber companies that were sold over five years ago with fewer assets as compared with WVLC went for higher prices.

The Enquirer gathered that Mim Timbers in the Brong Ahafo Region was sold for over $6million some five years ago while West African Glitton at Sefwi Dwenase in the Western Region went for $5 million also five years ago.

The paper's investigations revealed that AT &P at Sameriboi in the Western Region was also sold for more than $5million some ten years ago.

The Enquirer gathered that the proposed 20 per cent payment by the new owners of the company, ASD Lumber (Ghana) Limited has not been effected as stipulated in the initial agreement for the take over.

Meanwhile information trickling down from Sekondi indicates that there was a near fatal clash between the workers of the defunct WVLC and the new management at the weekend when the latter attempted to enter the premises of the company.

The contention of the over seven hundred workers is that they were not involved in the divestiture process. According to them, they were given the assurance that as a major stakeholder in the process they would be duly involved in the whole process.

However, they said that was not the case but rather they were served with notice by the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) on October 11, 2007, that the company has been sold.

The workers argued that the manner the new management attempted to take over the place on October 17, 2007 was not the best.

They said that they would prevent ASD Lumber (Ghana) Limited from entering the premises until a decent End of Service Benefit (ESB) is organized for them.

The WVLC was placed on divestiture over fourteen years ago and ASD Lumber (Ghana) went in to have the place.

However, the government acting through the DIC secretly gave the company to ASD Lumber (Ghana) at the blind side of all those who matter in the divestiture of the company.

Initial checks at the DIC over how much the company was sold by The Enquirer drew a blank as none of the officials at the place were prepared to disclose the amount.

Earlier, the General Secretary of the Timber and Woodworkers Union of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr. Joshua Ansah upon contact expressed dismay over the divestiture of the company.

He said what the DIC and for that matter the government has done as far as the divestiture of WVLC is concerned amounts to great disrespect to the Ghanaian worker.

He said that the DIC was told of the stake that the workers had in the divestiture of the company but decided to ignore it and went ahead and sold the place without involving the workers.

Meanwhile, The Enquirer has it that the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Forestry will on Wednesday October 21, 2007 hold a meeting with the leadership of the workers to fashion out a package for the over seven hundred workers.