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Don’t sell Komenda Sugar Factory - Mahama advises govt

BY: Timothy Gobah
 Mr John Dramani Mahama
Mr John Dramani Mahama

Former President John Dramani Mahama has advised the government against disposing of the Komenda Sugar Factory in the Central Region.

He said selling off the factory would not be in the interest of the people of Ghana.

“I heard recently that the government wants to sell the factory and it is unacceptable since this is an investment put together by the government of Ghana,” he said.

President Mahama made the remarks in an interaction with journalists following a durbar with the chiefs and the people of Komenda as part of his tour of the Central Region last Friday.

In May 2016, then President John Mahama inaugurated the revamped Komenda Sugar Factory in a move by the government of the National

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Democratic Congress (NDC) to restructure the economy and create jobs. However, it was closed in June 2016 barely a month after its inauguration for lack of raw materials to feed it.

Komenda Sugar Factory

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The factory was envisioned to create more than 7,000 direct and indirect jobs but remains shut three years after it was inaugurated.

It was revamped through an Indian Exim Bank loan of $35 million and has the capacity to crush 1,250 tonnes of sugarcane per day.

On Thursday, April 4, 2019, Trade and Industry Minister, Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen told Parliament that a new strategic investor would be announced by the end of April to take over the assets of the Komenda Sugar Factory.

“Mr Speaker, the previous government in late 2016 went through a process of divesting its majority shares to a private investor.

However, the process was aborted due to the failure of the identified investor to fulfil the obligations under the Sale and Purchase Agreement”, he said.

But, the Minority in Parliament, following this, accused the government of deliberately causing the factory to be undervalued so it could be sold off cheaply.

Debunking claims

Mr Mahama has debunked the claims by the Trade and Industry Minister and said, “there was never any plan to sell the factory”. He said his administration’s intention was to get a partner under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) agreement.

“I can say emphatically, as a former President under whose tenure the factory was revamped, that there was never any plan to sell off the factory”, he stated emphatically.

He, therefore, called on the government to consider going into a PPP agreement to revive the factory

He has urged the government to pursue the $23 million loan from the India Exim Bank, which was still available, for phase two of the project .
Currently, he said, about 3,000 acres of land was accessible for planting sugarcane to feed the factory.

He said part of the fund was meant for planting of the core farm and some to register outgrower farmers such that all small sugarcane farmers around Komenda and its environs would be assisted to grow the right type of sugarcane since the sugarcane currently grown did not have enough juice in it to produce quality sugar.

Expertise

Mr Mahama said the country could get the expertise and the technology to make the factory work again, adding that “sugar is a significant commodity the country imports and almost to the tune of $200 million every year”.

“So, if we produce part of that sugar here then it would reduce the country’s foreign exchange used for importing the commodity,” he said.

He pledged to revive the factory should he become the President again in 2021.