The government has expressed interest and made a commitment to buy the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO).
The Kaiser Aluminium Corporation, which owns 90 per cent of VALCO, has offered to sell its interest in the company at the minimum cost of $35 million.
President J.A .Kufuor, who announced this at a durbar of chiefs and people of Tema yesterday said the government had carried out related studies into the offer and had declared its commitment to buy the offer.
Responding to concerns expressed by Nii Adjei Kraku II, Tema Mantse, about the future of VALCO, President Kufuor said “ VALCO is not going to die; the government is preparing to gain maximum benefit from VALCO than ever before.”
President Kufuor said within a matter of weeks the government would come out with a plan for the future of VALCO, which he described as a national asset. He, however, indicated that the government's role in the future of VALCO would be strategic, instead of running the day-to-day operations of the company. Kaiser has already executed a memorandum of understanding for the transaction, which is a first step in completing the sale of VALCO.
The memorandum of understanding specifies that the payment of the amount for the sale of VALCO will be spread over a period beginning from 2004. Assuming Ghana decides to buy the company at the minimum offer of $35 million, the country is expected to pay $7million in cash to Kaiser and $18 million in cash to VALCO. The rest of the money will be paid in cash to Kaiser over a five-year period from the closing date of the offer.
The sale transaction will also include the assumption of Kaiser's liabilities and obligations related to VALCO.
The sale of VALCO is subject to the diligence and approval by the President or Cabinet of Ghana, Parliament, boards of directors of Kaiser and VALCO and the US Bankruptcy Court.
President Kufuor said the new unity spirit which was emerging among the various Ga chiefs and communities must be harnessed productively to tackle some of the development and social problems in the country. He said problems, such as bad town and country planning, urban poverty, unemployment, poor sanitation, drug abuse, the menace of land-guards and even buglary and armed robbery, which are characteristic of modern cities, including Accra and Tema, should engage the attention of the chiefs and landlords in the metropolis.
Underscoring the strategic importance of Tema, the President said the government was executing the necessary infrastructure development programmes to modernise the Tema, the port city and its surroundings to support a modern cosmopolitan economy.
He announced that the rehabilitation of the Accra-Tema railway had begun and the development of the container terminal at the Tema Harbour would be completed next year.
Apart from the various projects, including road construction, drains, supply of potable water and electricity, being executed by the government, President Kufuor said projects such as the construction of the sea defence wall to secure the land for the people of Sakumono, Tema Manhean and Kpone were being pursued.
He the government was determined to sustain the modernisation programme to make the Tema city the preferred investors' destination that it was meant to be . He said expressed the hope that the commencement of the West Africa Gas Pipe-line would create additional job opportunities for the people in the Tema area.
Responding to appeal by the Tema Mantse for the release of stool stands acquired by the state but which had not been used, President Kufuor recalled the assurance he gave two weeks ago at the grand durbar of chiefs and people of Ga, to climax this year's Homowo festival that the government would hold the necessary consultations with those concerned about the land issue and come up with a good decision that would be pleasing to all.
On the forthcoming elections, President Kufuor reiterated the government's commitment to free and fair elections and advised politicians to avoid the use of the abusive language in their campaigns since such a practice could betray their commitment to free and fair elections.
Nii Kraku II commended the government for the numerous development projects it had embarked on in the Tema municipal area.
Mr Samuel Ashong Narh, Tema Municipal Chief Executive, elaborated on a number of projects being carried out by the municipal assembly to develop the municipal area, saying that environmental sanitation had remained one of the top priorities of the assembly.