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24.07.2008 General News

Palm Oil Control Board Advocated

By G. Blay Gibbah, Tema - newtimesonline.com
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The Customer Development Manager of Unilever Ghana, Mr Kwaku Boateng, has called for the establishment of a palm oil control board, to oversee the affairs of palm oil in the country.

He said such a body will help maintain standards and regulate pricing, behaviour of players in the industry among others, just as COCOBOD does in the cocoa industry.

Mr Boateng who made the call on Monday, in a presentation during a visit by members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism to the Unilever Ghana Factory at Tema said, though the palm oil industry has the capacity to meet local demand and even surplus for export the lack of such a body to manage the production puts the industry at a disadvantage and deprive the country of relevant revenue.

The purpose of the visit was to acquaint members with the production processes of the company, and how the recent reduction in the tariff of some products was affecting their operations.

Mr Boateng said local palm oil demand was about 60,000 metric tons per annum according to data from Nielsen. Out of the figure, Unilever Ghana's Oil Palm Plantations, Benso Oil Palm Plantation and Twifo oil palm plantations alone, produce about 40,000metric tons per annum and together with other outgrowers their production far exceeded the local demand.

He therefore, suggested that the local palm oil industry be promoted aggressively for it to attract the needed attention.

Mr Charles Cofie, Managing Director of Unilever Ghana, called for an equal playing field where local palm oil producers and vegetable oil importers will compete favourably.

He said this could be realised if importers declare the correct values of their imports and pay the right duties.

Mr Cofie expressed concern about counterfeiting of the company's products and others on the market describing it as a dangerous phenomenon which needs immediate attention.

He said counterfeiting was affecting the image of the country as it had been said by others as a place where wrong doers can get away free.

Mr Cofie said counterfeiting also deprives government of taxes.

He said the company last week reduced prices of some of its products between five and 10 per cent to stimulate interest in their products.

Mr Cofie said the company registered a growth of 17.4 per cent from GH¢118,000 in 2006 to GH¢139,000.

He added that the company is putting measures in place to explore the huge Ecowas market which has a population of about 300 million.

Mr Joseph B. Danquah, chairman of the committee, urged the management of the company to continue to expand its market and collaborate with tertiary institutions to impart employable skills to students.

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