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15.07.2004 Business & Finance

Government to respond to BOPP issue

By GNA

Accra, July 15, GNA- Mr. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, on Thursday said in line with the spirit and letter of article 20 of the Constitution, government would ensure that any compensation due the people of Adum Banso in connection with the Banso Oil Palm Plantation, (BOPP) would be paid.

This, he said would be done in a way that would involve all the circumstances of the case in a fair manner.

The Minister was answering a question from a member in Parliament in connection with BOPP, incorporated on January, 1976 by Unilever PLC and the government of Ghana as a private company limited by shares to produce crude palm oil.

Presently, Unilever owns 58.45 per cent of the shares, government has 40 and Barclays Bank Ghana Pension Funds has 1.55 percent.

Major Samuel K Amposah (RTD.), NDC-Mpohor Wassa East had asked the Minister why the 13,000 acres of Adum Banso stool lands, "which was expropriated for BOPP and which formed the government's 40 per cent equity in the said company, was being offloaded on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) without consulting the land owners and providing some shares to them since no compensation or royalties had been paid since 1976."

The Finance Minister said the Office of the President was aware of a petition from the traditional rulers and the entire citizens of Adum-Banso over the sale of government's 40 per cent shareholding in BOPP.

He said they were also aware of a writ in the High Court in Sekondi by solicitors acting on behalf of traditional rulers in the area seeking a number of relieves in respect of claims for compensation.

The Finance Minster said investigations had been going on since July last year, to trace the "background and documentation covering the aspect of the transaction that bear on the claims for compensation by the people of Adum Banso."

He explained that there were three aspects of the compensation, which were for crops, buildings and lands.

"Investigations revealed that between 1980 and 1994 a total of 24,150,737.45 cedis was paid out as compensation for crops to claimants."

"However, there is no evidence that 208,228,000 million cedis, which was assessed as compensation for 130 claimants whose buildings were affected by the acquisition was paid following an application made to the Ministry of Finance in June 1997," the Minister said.

Mr. Osafo-Maafo said it was important to emphasise that government legally acquired the lands in question and therefore the issue over land compensation must not be confused with whether the government legally acquired the land.

"Compensation for land acquired, if any, has nothing to do with the legitimacy of government's 40 per cent ownership of BOPP and the ongoing divestiture of government's shares in BOPP..."

He said the public sale of government's shares was based on the policy of economic reforms and the strengthening of the private sector. The Minster advised the traditional rulers that to ensure a quick resolution of the matter they should withdraw the case from the court and stop an announcement being made in the media to discourage the purchase of 40 per cent shares by the public.

He said the government was ready for settlement and payments, which would be done through the current share floatation going on, adding that a committee had been set up to further look into the matter. The House later approved various loan facilities for the water and road sectors among others.

Through a resolution, backed by 103 votes, the House approved a Development Credit Agreement between Ghana and the International Development Association (IDA) for an amount of 60 million dollars to finance the Community-Based Rural Development Project. The facility is expected to promote the convergence of decentralisation efforts in accordance with the national decentralisation action plan.

The terms of credit covers 30 years with 10 years moratorium and repayment would be made semi-annually commencing on September 1, 2014 and ending March 1, 2044.

Parliament also ratified the Protocol A/P2/1/03 relating to the application of compensation procedures for the loss of revenue incurred by the Economic Community of West Africa member states because of the Trade Liberalisation scheme.

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