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08.02.2006 Business & Finance

Kufuor inaugurates Nestle Office


Accra, Feb. 8 GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor said on Wednesday that there had been marked positive change in Ghana to convince the world of a wholesome business environment and destination of choice for investment.

Government, in keeping with its promise of opening up the country for business and make the country an international platform for manufacturing and commerce had stabilised the macro-economy, restored broken down infrastructure, promoting Information Communication Technology (ICT) and enhanced social services delivery.

Above all, it had maintained stability, peace and security throughout the country, he said when he inaugurated the Nestle Central and West Africa Regional Office in Accra.

The Office that was based in Abidjan, Cote d' Ivoire, and operated as the management centre of all Nestles Companies in the region, comprising nine countries, including Ghana has now been relocated to Accra due to the Ivorien crisis.

President Kufuor said the relocation of the regional office to Ghana was a vindication of the policies pursued over the last five years.

"Happily with the support of Ghanaians and our development partners, government has been able to place the economy on an even keel and readied it for accelerated growth".

President Kufuor noted that Nestle's business in the country had grown progressively since 2001, saying that apart from the almost doubling of its workforce, the company was now no longer producing exclusively for the Ghanaian market as it used to be in the past, but is now the main production centre in Central and West Africa for canned milks, cocoa beverages and infant nutrition.

This, development he said, had meant an expansion programme totalling over 25 million dollars in the Tema factory. President Kufuor assured the Company of continued and beneficial partnership adding that, "Government welcomes all investors, large or small, not for short or medium term political gain, but rather to promote long-term mutually beneficial relations between Ghana and her business partners."

Mr Allan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, said the strategic decision to relocate, which was a global practice, had significant importance to the country.

He said it was a vote of confidence in Ghana.

The Executive Vice President of the Nestle Group for Asia, Oceania and Africa, Mr Frits Van Dijk, said, "We are here for long term. "Our corporate mission - to create long-term shareholder value, assures the long-term availability of natural and human resources and vibrant markets. As such sustainability is a mandatory element of our operations".

Mr Fritz Mahler, Head of the Central and West Africa Regional Office, said the Company paid corporate taxes, Import Duties and Dividends totalling 99 billion cedis on its operations in Ghana over the last 12 months.

It also collected 154 billion cedis of Value Added Tax (VAT) and National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for Government during the period. Nestle, the largest manufacturer of confectionery in the world uses a large portion of Ghana's cocoa.