If STX fails, gov't would have a huge hole to plug – Ablakwa
The government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has acknowledged it would have a big challenge to deal with if its signature housing project, popularly referred to as the STX housing scheme falls through.
Deputy Information Minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, speaking on Joy FM's Super Morning Show Monday morning in response to the boardroom maneuverings and wrangling that has beset management of the project in recent times, said the government “would certainly have a big hole to plug if this STX deal does not go through and… cabinet certainly need to meet again and take another decision on how to plug this hole; that is if this STX deal does not come to light.”
The STX housing project, “we must admit, would have been the biggest step” in addressing the extraordinarily high housing deficit in the country “because that would have been our biggest intervention [in the housing sector],” he said.
Key stakeholders in the deal have been at each other's throat for some time now, putting the execution of the project in limbo. The STX housing project was being executed by a newly registered local company, STX Engineering and Construction Ltd. in partnership with foreign partners STX Korea with the latter owning 90 per cent shares and the former taking the remainder.
However, the relationship went sour with Mr B.K. Asamoah, the lead local contact person, heading for the courts, suspecting the Koreans wanted to push him out of the business. He later withdrew the case from court following interventions by the government.
Things got murkier last week when the Koreans, who reportedly broke away and formed a new company, STX E&C Ghana Ltd., in a terse note signed by its CEO and Executive Chairman, Im-Dong Park, claimed “On August 18, 2011 the Board of STX Engineering & Construction Ghana Ltd approved a resolution to remove Mr. BK Asamoah from the Chief Executive Office and Mr George Padi from the position of Deputy Chief Financial Officer.
“STX Engineering & Construction Ghana Ltd hereby notifies the general public that Mr BK Asamoah and Mr. George Padi do not have any rights to represent STX Engineering & Construction Ghana Ltd in any action, contract or agreement. Therefore, any commitment, contract and/or agreement made by Mr. B.K. Asamoah and Mr. George Padi are void and invalid. Furthermore, [lease be informed that 2 criminal complaints and 2 civil law suits have been filed against Mr B.K. Asamoah,” the statement added.
But Mr BK Asamoah issued a counter statement, saying, “STX Construction (Korea) is no longer an equity partner in STX Engineering and Construction Limited which STX Construction (Korea) exited in May 2011. STX Construction (Korea) therefore has no locus in STX Engineering and Construction Limited and consequently, no basis for any actions in respect of STX Engineering and Construction Limited.”
Mr Asamoah's statement maintained that “These facts can be verified via the public records of the Registrar General's Department. Any actions taken by STX Construction (Korea) or its agents in respect of the operations of STX Engineering and Construction Limited are of no consequence.”
These controversies, the Deputy Information Minister stated, are deeply troubling for the government.
He said the government will rely on the Attorney-General for advice on how to move forward with the project.
Early on, the Minority Leader of Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had said the government ought to be careful not to do anything in the name of providing housing that would violate the rules and regulations guiding the conduct of public business in the country.
He said Parliament would not have given a sovereign guarantee without the Koreans – who promised to raise the $1.5 billion needed for the first phase of the project – to the newly registered local construction firm.
According to him, if the Koreans have been taken out of the picture, the government ought to go back to Parliament with an amended agreement for debate and approval.
Story by Malik Abass Daabu/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana