Fifteen companies and individuals have won tenders to purchase the highly politicized Osei-Adjei Indian Rice, barely two weeks after the National Investment Bank (NIB) advertised it was for sale.
Even though it is not clear how many companies applied, indications are that a large number expressed interest in the rice which had been lying in two warehouses in Accra and Tema since February this year.
The 'lucky' companies/individuals include Ghana National Procurement Agency (GNPA), UT Logistics, New Heaven Mayak Enterprise, John Wilson, Fika Enterprise, Kinjeog Enterprise, Salem Lane Enterprise, and Step By Step Enterprise.
The rest are Just Here Bay Enterprise, Opienim Ventures, Hajia Hawa Enterprise, Bentman Enterprise, Alphasam Impex Limited, Pekwapong, and Chukufrik Enterprise.
According to an advert in the media, the companies and individuals are to contact the Head of Credit Monitoring Department of NIB to pay for their allocations not later than 28th August, 2009.
The advertisement stressed that those who failed to meet the deadline would be replaced with other bidders on standby.
The $10 million rice was imported into the country by the past government from India through the instrumentality of former foreign minister, , but the present administration is investigating him for allegedly causing financial loss to the state.
In the process, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), on Tuesday 26th May, 2009 seized the former minister's travelling passport, with the accusation that he was attempting to flee the country.
Interestingly, while investigations were on-going, the National Investment Bank (NIB), the sole importer of the rice, placed advertisements in the print in media and made invitations to tender for the sale of the rice.
“The National Investment Bank Limited has available for sale a large quantity of rice as follows: Quantity – 282,882 bags of 50kg each, Source – India, Grade – 25% broken”.
According to the advert, interested companies and members of the general public should submit sealed tenders marked 'sale of Indian rice' at the main reception of the bank's head office not later than Monday, 17th August, 2009, and would be opened the following day, 18th August.
It stressed that tenders could only bid for a minimum of 10,000 bags or multiples of 10,000 bags.
Hon Osei-Adjei insisted he only facilitated in getting the deal through and that he never signed any contract for him to have caused any financial loss.
According to him, the Government of Ghana, at the time, pleaded with the Government of India to waive a ban on the exportation of food products so as to allow rice to be exported from the Asian country to Ghana, and that was where he came in as facilitator.
He insisted the deal was between the NIB and the Indian government and that he only brokered a diplomatic deal to lift an embargo on rice importation to some African countries, including Ghana.
The former minister had since sued the Attorney General and Minister of Justice as well as the Director of BNI over the passport seizure.
The rice is currently stored at the Makai Logistics Warehouse, Tema, and another along the Spintex Road, Accra.
Observers say the sale of the rice could give a twist to the entire saga. Already, several questions are flying over whether indeed there was any financial loss to the state at all, and who is actually responsible.