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20.06.2008 General News

Chocolate Producers To Hit The Streets

By Lawrence Akpalu - newtimesonline.com
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OPERATORS in the hospitality industry who were contracted to produce goodies for distribution on National Chocolates Day celebration on February 14, this year, are alleging that they have not been paid for their services.

They have, therefore, threatened to hit the streets of Accra next week Saturday, June 28, to register their protest against the Ministry of Tourism and Disporan Relations.

The operators who were contracted by the Ghana Chefs Association (GHACA) on behalf of the ministry to produce chocolate goodies were asked to pre-finance the goodies and be re-imbursed later.

But four months after the event, neither the executives of GHACA nor the ministry is telling them when they will be paid.

They maintained that the ministry did not pay them for a similar engagement last year leaving some of them indebted to the tune of GH¢4,000 to their suppliers.

The amount for this year is about the same as last year, they claimed.

'We cannot continue this way if we are to change the face of the Valentine’s Day celebration through boosting awareness on chocolate consumption in the country,' they said.

When contacted, the president of GHACA, Stephen Dzilah, confirmed the story saying he had been under intense pressure by the operators for the past two months.

He said all attempts to get them to exercise some restraint failed as some have openly accused him of siding with the ministry to deprive them of their hard earned income.

Mr Dzilah said the decision to use the services of the operators was arrived at after the ministry mooted the idea to change the face of the Valentine’s Day celebration with the national chocolate day celebration.

This was complemented when an expert on chocolate production was brought into the country to train them.

Mr Dzilah said this started the relationship between the association and the ministry and it saw a successful celebration of the two chocolate events.

Mr Dzilah said that he will do everything to prevent the demonstration by liaising with the ministry to pay the money without further delay.

The Chief Director at the ministry, Mrs Bridget Katsriku, when contacted said the ministry has almost finished processing claims submitted by the operators 'and they will be paid anytime next week'.

She appealed to the operators to exercise restraint, saying 'all these payments will have to pass through a process which does not take a day to perform'.

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