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19.11.2010 General News

Government to revive operations of SIPL should divestiture attempts fail

By GNA
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Accra, Nov 17, GNA - Mrs Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry, said on Wednesday that government would take a second look at reviving the operations of the Subri Industrial Plantation Limited should all attempts to divest the assets of the company prove unsuccessful.

She said the company's liabilities covering indebtedness to various companies, staff terminal benefits, bank overdraft; Provident Fund and staff severance awards total GH¢ 2,915,010.80.

Mrs Tetteh who said this when she was in the house to answer questions, also noted that the company's present assets included an existing plantation of over 5,000 hectares of an industrial raw material(Gmelina arbora) site for nurseries with a dam, industrial estate comprising office blocks, staff bungalows, clinic, schools, 13,000 hectares of forest reserve, sawmill and a kiln.

She said the company was set in 1885 to produce the fibrous raw material "Gmelia arbora" to feed the pulp and paper mill.

She added that the project was promoted by the government and five local financial institutions, namely the Social Security and National Insurance Trust, Ghana Commercial Bank, Agricultural Development Bank, SG-SSB bank and National Investment bank as shareholders with Government having 71.5 per cent share in the company.

Mrs Tettey said the original objective of installing a pulp plant could not be executed due to lack of funding.

She explained that a re-appraisal of the project showed that the land area of 18,000 hectares earmarked for the cultivation of raw material would not be able to sustain the project or support a modern pulp and paper mill.

This, she said, had been further limited by the fact that approximately 6000 hectares had been classified as a globally significant biodiversity area and were constrained from being used for environment reasons.

She also explained that due to the lack of additional investment the company therefore had to focus on sawmilling, using the overgrown gmelia arbona trees which could not sustain the company financially.

It, therefore, continued to experience financial problems until it was eventually placed on the divestiture list, she said, adding that the divesture of the company was the responsibility of the Divestiture Implementation Committee.

Mrs Tetteh said the company was put on the divestiture list in December, 2002, and though the initiative was to obtain a potential joint ventureship for pulp and paper production no suitable partners were found, thus compelling the DIC to re-advertise the company for investors in 2008 and again in 2010.

She said the DIC was yet to conclude the divestiture process.

GNA

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