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28.10.2004 Business & Finance

Attorney General Defends VALCO buyout

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Accra, Oct 28,GNA - Papa Owusu Ankomah, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, on Thursday said Ghanaian would be reliving the vision and dream of an integrated aluminium industry by purchasing the stake on offer in the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO).
"Forty years ago, many Ghanaians thought of Dr Kwame Nkrumah's vision as wishful. Today, President Kufuor has a vision that in about twenty years, Ghana would be a star of Africa."
Papa Owusu Ankomah was winding up the debate on the purchase of 90 per cent shares of VALCO in Parliament.
He said during Nkrumah's day, he had a river, a dream and deposits of bauxites but he managed to turn it into a dam with its related benefits.
"Now we would realise this dream with a much stronger bargaining power. We have a dam, a smelter and bauxite deposits to make a stronger impact."
He said Parliament was not rpt not called up to rubberstamp a done deal but to share and approve a deal that was in the interest of the people of Ghana.
The Attorney - General, who is the lead negotiator of the purchase, said the five million dollars given out is a sign of good faith and that Government had pursued the interest of the country diligently.
Dr Paa Kwesi Ndoum, Minister of Energy, said VALCO was of strategic importance to the economy of Ghana.
He denied allegations that the dispute over power tariffs between VALCO and Government brought about the sale.
He said the parent company of VALCO had filed for bankruptcy at court in the United States and the case had to be concluded before the sale could proceed.
Dr Ndoum said aluminium was in high demand in emerging economies like China and the rest hence the viability of VALCO.
"We are working on the realities of the times and not on hopes," he said.
He said the Government did not intend to be the manager or operator of the plant.
The Minority had expressed dissatisfaction on the events leading to the deal.
They asked that such deals should be more transparent and more prudent in the future, else "Parliament ends up earning certificate of embarrassments on such deals," Mr Seidu Adamu, the Minority Spokesman said.
Parliament ratified the agreement by 120 votes against one.

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