Category Archives: Business

Do not increase transport fares – Drivers warned

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Fears of the motoring public as regards reports of increase in transport fares have been allayed after an announcement by Road Transport Operators that there will be no upward review of fares.

After a marginal increase in fuel prices for the second price window in September, drivers agitated for an increase in fares.

But after a meeting held on Friday, stakeholders in the transport sector agreed that there should be no increase in fares from the fuel price increases.

“We as transport operators have monitored the increases and decreases in the prices of fuel from April, 2017 when we had the recent transport fare increase to date,” a release issued after the meeting said.

“We have noted that the Net Position does not create a significant increase to warrant increase in transport fares.

“In view of the above, all transport operators are NOT TO INCREASE TRANSPORT FARES and we seek the operation of members in this regard.”

Source: 3news.com|Ghana

Consensus reached to resolve Times impasse amicably

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The board of directors, management and workers of the New Times Corporation have agreed to amicably resolve the grievances that led to the locking out of Managing Director Carol Annang on Monday.

At a meeting on Friday between the board and management, on one hand, and the workers, represented by the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU), on the other hand, the parties called for the immediate return of normalcy to the state media firm.

On Monday, workers demonstrated against management by calling for the head of Ms Annang.

They locked their offices as they also protested their working conditions, claiming they are among lowest paid workers in Ghana.

Friday’s meeting agreed that due process should be followed to meet the workers’ demands.

A communiqué issued after the meeting required that “no worker should be victimized as a result of the industrial action”.

ICU was also enjoined to ensure that sanity prevails at the premises of the company.

Source: 3news.com|Ghana

Ghanaians optimistic about Saturday’s maritime ruling

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File picture: Ghana’s former Attorney General introduced her successor at the tribunal

Saturday’s ruling by by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS)  on maritime boundary dispute between Ghana and Ivory Coast will certainly go in the way of Ghana, experts assessed.

Ghana resorted to the Germany-based tribunal after about three years of diplomatic jaw-jaw with its neighboring country claiming parts of the oil and gas-rich Cape Three Points and other investment, fell through.

After years of sitting, the court set Saturday, September 23 to bring finality to the impasse.

Mr. Ishmael Edjekumhene, Executive Director of KITE, admitted that the two countries are sitting on tenterhook, but due to the “solid case” presented by Ghana “I am confident Ghana will win”.

In an unlikely event that the court rules in favour of Ivory Coast, he told TV3 Midday Live on Friday, it will affect Ghana’s future revenue but there is no way all the investments made by Ghana would be made to go waste.

A legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu who wades into the conversation explained that Ivory Coast win have to “reimburse Ghana for its investment” based on “principle of equity” if Ghana loses.

He also noted the possibility of the two countries being asked to jointly exploit the resources.

Having perused similar rulings by the tribunal such as the Norway and UK, Netherlands and UK, and Tunisia and Morocco, Mr. Kpebu declared: “Based on what we are hearing and reading, we should be successful.”

Maritime lawyer and former Shippers Authority boss Dr. Kofi Mbiah had told Starr FM Saturday’s ruling will favour Ghana.

“I’m very positive on the basis of the law, not only on the basis of nationalism. I have reviewed the very recent decision and I have seen the approach that has been taken by the court in recent times and I’m very convinced that it will go in Ghana’s favour”.

Timeline of events

2007: Ghana discovers oil and gas in commercial quantities. Cote d’Ivoire stakes claim of ownership to portions of the West Cape Three Points.

2010: Cote d’Ivoire renews claim of ownership of the disputed sea, days after Vanco, an oil exploration and production company, announced the discovery of oil in the Dzata-1 deepwater-well.

2010: Ivorian government petitions the United Nations asking for a completion of the demarcation of its maritime boundary with Ghana.

March 2010: Ghanaian authorities responded with the setting up of the Ghana Boundary Commission (GBC) tasked with the responsibility of negotiating with Côte d’Ivoire towards finding a lasting solution to the problem.

September 2014: Ghana drags Cote d’Ivoire to ITLOS after 10 failed negotiations.
April 2015: ITLOS makes first ruling, places moratorium on new projects and asks old projects to continue.

2017: Case concluded and judgement expected on September 23, 2017.

Source: 3news.com |Ghana

HFC in talks with two banks to meet GHS400m minimum capital requirement

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HFC Bank has disclosed that it is in talks with two commercial banks over the possibility of a merger or acquisition as part of the bank’s move to meet the GHS400 million minimum capital requirement announced by the central bank some fortnight ago.

According to the HFC Managing Director, Anthony Jordan, the two banks approached HFC after the Bank of Ghana’s announcement to find out whether they can come together as a single bank to meet the December 31, 2018 deadline.

“We have started preliminary discussions with two banks that have approached us since the announcement was made and if there is progress, then you will see some kind of merger or an acquisition take place.

But remember we will not just want to merge or acquire other banks but we will consider whether we have some common grounds especially when it comes to culture which will impact on our way of doing business together seamlessly,” he told the B&FT.

According to Mr. Jordan, who will not disclose the names of the said banks, since the announcement, there have been conversations within the banking industry around mergers and acquisitions among the banks; and HFC is open to offers from other banks.

He told the B&FT that: “you may be aware that HFC was one of the three banks that applied for the purchase of UT and Capital banks. That tells you how we view this whole idea of consolidation. We remain very much aggressive in the market and we have the expertise when it comes to acquisitions as we are ready to grow the bank through such means should the need arise from the increase in the minimum capital requirement. This is because we suspect some of the banks will not be able to meet the GH¢400 million set.”

BoG’s announcement

The Bank of Ghana recently announced a new capital requirement of GH¢400 million for banks in the country.

The increase meant that, new entrants into the banking industry have to cough the GH¢400 million amount while existing banks were given up to December 2018 to meet the new minimum capital requirement.

The GH¢400 million represented a jump of 233.3 percent from the previous GH¢120 million set by the regulator for commercial banks in the country.

Responding to whether HFC will meet the new capital, the Managing Director Mr. Jordan said, HFC Bank will meet the new minimum capital requirement.

“We intend to meet this new threshold long before the deadline in December 2018. There are strategic reasons why we will meet the deadline. Based on the discussions I have had with our majority shareholder the Republic Bank, we have decided to reinject the additional capital to meet the requirement of GH¢400 million just after our next Annual General Meeting which is set to take place in April 2018.”

New requirement not too high

That notwithstanding, he downplayed calls by some other stakeholders within the financial industry for the central bank to take a second look at the increase which they deemed to be too high.

Mr. Jordan stated that: “I will not say the amount set by the regulator is too much. One has to look at it from the context of the problems and the losses some banks have run into in times past. We must look at capital requirement as a buffer, which is able to help the banks to stay in business if there are shocks within the industry.

The other thing is that the government has made it quite clear of undergoing economic transformation.They say it will come along with some big-ticket transactions which they want it to be private sector led. This means they need banks that have the muscle and financial backing to take on these transactions to help transform the Ghanaian economy,” he added.

Source: B&FT | Ghana

COCOBOD borrows $1.3bn to buy cocoa in 2017/18 season

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The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has secured $1.3 billion from a consortium of 25 banks to finance cocoa production and purchases in the 2017/18 cocoa season.

An agreement to give meaning to the transaction was signed at a ceremony chaired by Ghana’s Ambassador to France, Ms Anna Bossman, in Paris on Wednesday.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the COCOBOD, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, signed on behalf of the COCOBOD, while representatives of the participating banks initialled for their respective banks.

At the ceremony, Mr Aidoo said the loan was expected to support over 800,000 cocoa farm households and thousands of people in cocoa-growing communities and their ancillary areas.

Although bids for this year’s cocoa loan totalled $2.4 billion, he said, the board turned down additional offers, translating into 84.6 per cent, and rather took the $1.3 billion that it had budgeted for.

Interest on loan

The funds are expected to fund the production and purchase of some 850,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans in the season, which opens on October 1, this year.

Mr Aidoo explained that the over-subscription of the loan was a sign of the confidence that the international financial market had in the country’s cocoa sector and the economy in general.

That confidence, he said, “stems, in part, from COCOBOD’s ability to repay the loan without default”.

“Each annual facility, plus the medium-term finances, has been repaid in full, either on or before maturity, making our repayment record legendary,” he said.

The CEO explained that although the board had scheduled to complete repayment of the 2016/17 facility by the end of August, a spirited “effort in the face of dire market challenges” helped the board to finish repayment before the end of July this year.

“I am, therefore, not surprised that the 2017/18 facility has been oversubscribed,” he stated.

Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, CEO of COCOBOD, appending his signature to the loan agreement

Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, CEO of COCOBOD, appending his signature to the loan agreement

Last year, the board secured $1.8 billion through its age-old cocoa loan syndication process, touted as the best commodity-backed deal in sub-Saharan Africa.

The loan will be repaid at an interest rate of 1.88 per cent, slightly above the 1.47 per cent that last year’s facility attracted.

Mr Aidoo said the first tranche of the loan was expected to hit the accounts of the board in the first week of October.

Impact on economy

An economist and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), Dr Said Boakye, said the successful raising of the loan was helpful to the economy.

“It is an annual event and so it is not so wonderful, but it is helpful because when the money comes in, it helps with the stabilisation of the cedi and makes money readily available for the purchase of cocoa,” he told the Daily Graphic in an interview.

While commending the board for maintaining the integrity of the syndication process, Dr Boakye wondered why COCOBOD reduced the loan amount from $1.8 billion in the 2016/17 crop season to $1.3 billion.

“In comparative terms, the amount raised is not so sufficient. Does that mean that COCOBOD envisages a reduction in output?” he asked, stating that the drastic reduction was unusual and could limit the impact of the loan on the exchange rate.

Mr Aidoo, however, hinted that the board could be returning to the banks for more money to finance its upstream capital projects, including cocoa roads, railway infrastructure and yield enhancement techniques.

Commendation

The cocoa loan syndication process started in the 1992/93 cocoa season and has since become an annual affair that financial institutions across the world look forward to.

The CEO said some 25 years down the line, Ghana had a lot to show for the over two decades of cocoa financing.

“From a production of 255,000 metric tonnes in the 1992/93 season, our production has more than tripled. On behalf of the government and the people of Ghana, let me seize this opportunity to thank all previous participating banks that have helped stay the course of our cocoa industry,” he said.

Source: Daily Graphic | Ghana

Government to list half of SOEs on stock market – Veep

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Government has begun talks with the Securities and Exchanges Commission to list more state owned enterprises on the stocks exchange.

The move is among others expected to solve the financial challenges facing most SOEs in Ghana.

The listing of the companies should also increase public ownership in the over 48 various SOEs.

From over 300 SOEs in 1980s, Ghana now has just 86 SOEs.

This also comprises 46 wholly government owned SOEs with 40 joint ventures.

A further breakdown also shows that 37 of the 46 wholly owned are commercial companies.

26 other SOEs are operating as Limited Liability.

The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia who disclosed this further indicated that the increased private sector participation in some areas of the economy warranted that government limits its role in such sectors.

Dr. Bawumia was speaking at the opening ceremony of a two day policy and governance forum for SOEs in Accra.

Vice president Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia says government is optimistic the listing of these SOEs will make them profitable

“Government on its part will be exploring the possibility of listing as many as possible SOEs on the stock exchange, as part of the overall drive to reform the sector and help it achieve commercial interface”, he stressed.

He also advised SOEs to adopt good corporate governance to remain profitable on the exchange.

“A major weakness of SOEs is its corporate governance structure. In addition to having leadership sufficiently invested with the requisite expertise, and get the best deals out of partnerships with the private sector, there is an urgent need to harmonize the way in which government manages these entities”, he added.

By Grace Asare/3FM/3news.com

Customs World takes over West Blue Ghana Limited

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File photo

Customs World, a subsidiary of Ports Customs and Free Zones Corporation (PCFC) Dubai, has signed an agreement to take over West Blue Ghana Limited, the company engaged for the provision of the National Single Window and Risk Management System in Ghana. This agreement formalises the establishment of “Ports & Customs World Ghana Limited.”

As part of the agreement, Customs World International is committed to investing significant resources including capital, world-class technologies and human expertise in Ghana as they have done in Dubai and other countries. The implementation of these new systems will be based on a robust risk engine that will improve efficiency in Ghana’s ports and customs operations thus, increasing revenue to the Government of Ghana and at the same time significantly reducing the cost of doing business in Ghana’s ports.

The takeover by Ports and Customs World Ghana, will automate Customs, Free Zones and Port processes in Ghana and also build Ghana’s capacities through the application of technology and services that will mirror the operational model in Dubai. This solution will be implemented through segments like the Risk Engine, Mirsal 2, the Client Management System, Smart Applications and the management of free zones and customs warehouses.

Customs World, under the Ports Customs Free Zones Corporation founded DP World which is currently present in 40 countries and 78 ports around the world including Australia, United States of America, United Kingdom, France, Korea, Canada, Belgium, Indonesia, Thailand, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, India and a lot more.

In 2016, Dubai Customs received an award for innovation from the World Customs Organisation which is the highest award for the maturity of a customs organisation.

In 2012, the World Customs Organisation gave them a certificate to recognize them as a benchmark for industry practices citing that “Dubai Customs has an impressive range of IT Systems which can be rightly regarded as World Class in which other Customs Administrations around the world could learn from”

Also, Dubai Customs was ranked 3rd globally by the World Economic Forum’s Burden of Customs Procedure. On an efficiency scale of 1 (inefficient) to 7 (extremely efficient) Dubai scored 6 ahead of the United Kingdom (11th), United States (30th), Korea (44th).

According to the World Bank’s Logistics Performance Index, Dubai Customs rose from 27th in 2014 to 13th in 2016, ahead of Canada(14th), France(16th), South Africa(20th), Korea(24th), Malaysia (32nd) and Ghana (88th). Dubai Customs ranked higher than all these countries in customs efficiency, logistical competence, infrastructure and timeliness.

West Blue Ghana Limited welcomed Customs World International’s entry into Ghana as acknowledged by Ms Valentina Mintah, CEO of West Blue Ghana Ltd. “In Ghana, we have made significant strides in the last few years with the Ghana National Single Window and in the recent month, the Paperless Programme. Dubai embarked on a similar paperless journey in 2005 and have moved to a fully automated world class award winning system within a short period of time. This new combination of Local and Global expertise, taking into consideration Ghana’s own unique trade

environment, will ensure we fast track the gains already made in Ghana, for the benefit of the trading community, government and ultimately the citizens of Ghana”

His Excellency Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the Chairman and CEO of DP World and Chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zones Corporation, expressed his enthusiasm about the takeover by saying: “We are excited about the opportunity to implement fully integrated ports, customs and free zones solution for Ghana which is operationally seamless from end to end to make Ghana’s Ports and Customs Systems the number one in West Africa.”

On his part, Mr. Faisal Eissa Lutfi, CEO of Customs World applauded the agreement and described the takeover as a well-planned step that will advance and boost Customs and Ports efficiency in Ghana.

Mr. Lutfi added: “The Dubai Customs’ experience and its leading role as a modern world class customs administration is a core competency we are willing to share with our partners in Ghana.”

The establishment of Ports and Customs World Ghana Limited will not only transform customs and ports operations, but will further strengthen and augment the government’s drive to make Ghana the number one business destination in the sub-region of West Africa. Additionally, the improved operational and systems efficiency at the port will increase government revenue and create more jobs for Ghanaians.

Source: WEST BLUE GHANA LTD | 3news.com

No CEO should earn more than the president – Ofori-Atta

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Ken Ofori-Atta

Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta has hinted that government is introducing a new system to rationalize the salaries of key management members of State Owned Enterprises.

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, is concerned that some CEOs are earning thrice more than the President of the Republic.
The Ministry is pushing for a scheme to make it impossible for any CEO to earn more than the president.

This will also mean that the review will also look at the bonus structure for the CEOs.

This was disclosed at the 2017 edition of the State Owned Enterprises policy and governance forum.

Ken Ofori Atta says management members will take salaries depending on their efficiency

“We currently have a mirage of remuneration schedule that we don’t quite understand. I think we need to begin to rationalize it to make it clear where remuneration ends so that it does not go beyond the presidency,” he said.

“Some of you take thrice what the president earns and I think we should look at that based on what you do”.

He said consideration will be given to the various sitting allowances, board fees as well as other related benefits.

The minister added that the move is in line with provision of the Public Financial Management Act

“We intend to take this function and responsibility seriously. Hence in accordance with best practices like the PFMA, we have initiated efforts to establish a comprehensive performance monitoring regime for the SOE sector”.

These efforts will culminate in the development of a performance monitoring manual.

By Grace Asare|3FM92.7|3news.com

Eighteen SOEs record net loss of GH¢791 million – Veep

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Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on Tuesday said a Ministry of Finance Report reveals that 18 State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) made a net loss of GH¢791 million, in addition to over GH¢13 million financial support and loans contracted.

He, therefore, tasked managers of SOEs to pay attention to commercial viability, fiscal impact and corporate governance issues in order to find solutions to their teething challenges.

“As managers of SOEs, the challenges we continue to have over these debts must be at the back of your minds when executing contracts and making commitments with finances, and ultimately fiscal implications for the whole economy.

“While the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA) provides for how financial and commercial transactions by state entities should be done and prescribes sanctions for non-compliance, at the end of the day, it is the decisions you make on a day-to-day basis that will have positive and/or negative impact economy-wide, and it is my expectation that this forum will address the PFMA as part of its deliberations,” the Vice President said.

Vice President Bawumia said this at the opening of a two-day SOE Policy and Governance Forum in Accra to discuss challenges bedevilling those enterprises and propose ideas and suggestions that would enable them to deliver on their mandate.

The forum brought together chief executive officers of the SOEs, regulators, multinational partners, professionals from academia and civil society organisations.

Dr Bawumia said resuscitating the SOEs to contribute significantly towards the Government’s economic transformation strategy remained high on its agenda.

To this end, he said, the State Enterprises Commission and selected SOEs were benefiting from a World Bank Technical Assistant Programme focused on consolidating the state’s ownership role in SOEs into a single entity, improving performance and ensuring effective and efficient service delivery.

In addition, he said, there would be development of key policies for the sectors within which the SOEs operated including ownership, board nominations and financing policies and amendment of Acts establishing relevant SOEs.

This would incorporate corporate governance as well as list some SOEs onto the Ghana Stock Exchange and convert others into limited liability companies.

“It is my hope that you will take advantage of this forum to share with government not your many challenges – which we all know- but your strategies for ensuring financial discipline, exploring access to new sources of capital, transparency and accountability, and improving commercial viability,” he said.

The Vice President said SOEs had been, and continued to be, the heart of the production and delivery of major public infrastructure and services, including electricity, potable water and petroleum products.

“Central to making Ghana the most business-friendly economy in Africa is a private sector working hand-in-hand with an efficiently-run and capable public sector enterprise.

“As the quasi-commercial arm of the State, the role of SOEs in helping achieve the objective of job-creation Public Private Partnerships is pivotal as they extend to all critical sectors of the economy, including energy and power, petroleum, trade, agriculture, manufacturing, housing, railways and aviation,” he said.

Vice President Bawumia said the experiences of other countries showed that efficiently managed SOEs served as catalysts for development, while some mobilised capital for investment in other sectors of the economy and managed natural resources.

“There is, therefore, an expectation that SOEs will be significant partners in Ghana’s economic development for the foreseeable future,” he said.

The Vice President, therefore, charged SOEs to justify continued government support and investments, especially for those that were not making sufficient profit.

Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance, in his welcome address, said it was part of the Government’s broader efforts to improve the governance environment and engender high levels of transparency and accountability for the SOEs.

He said the forum was intended to sensitise key stakeholders on government’s strategy and initiatives for the SOEs as well as provide a platform for them to discuss critical developments and other issues of concern.

The Minister expressed the belief that feedback from the forum would not only be persuasive, but would also contribute significantly to the further refinement and effective implementation of the SOE reforms and strategies.

As a result of privatisation, liquidation and dwindling SOEs, the number of SOEs had reduced from 300 in the mid1980s to 86 as at the end of August 2017.

They consist of 46 wholly government owned and 40 joint ventures, 37 of the wholly government owned are commercial companies, with 26 operating as limited liability companies under the Companies Act and 11 being statutory  corporations.

There are nine subvented agencies in addition to 40 other companies in which government has either minority or majority shares. There are also 10 mining firms in which government has up to 10 per cent carried interest each.

Statistics from the State Enterprises Commission indicate that 28 of the SOEs employed a total of 32,500 workers and generated a total revenue of GH¢16.2 billion.

Source: GNA | Ghana

Dangote begs public to help monitor, report unscrupulous truck drivers

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The Management of Dangote Industries Limited has launched a passionate appeal to members of the public to assist in monitoring both the recklessness and the illegal haulage of contraband goods by some of his truck drivers.

The company has also set up hotlines for the public to call in and report such truck drivers, with a promise to appropriately compensate calls that lead to arrest of errant drivers.

Noting that the trucks belonging to Dangote Cement are only allowed to carry cement, high grade gypsum and coal, those belonging to Dangote Sugar (NASCON) are authorized to carry only salt and Dan Q seasoning.

Press release from the company also revealed that trucks belonging to Agro Sacks, the bags producing arm of Dangote Group, can only carry bags, belonging to Dangote flour Mills, Wheat, Flour and Danvita.

“The Management of Dangote Industries Limited hereby alerts the public to report any suspected Dangote truck driver involved in illegal haulage. Please call Dangote Industries Management hotline on all information regarding illegal haulage activities on 08070188000, 01-2123567, 08170023846, 08152093133 and or email us at [email protected]”.

Dangote Management also issued a stern warning to those illegally transporting unauthorized goods through its trucks. “Dangote Industries Limited also wishes to warn those that illegally transport materials on Dangote trucks that such unauthorized goods, when found, shall be confiscated and such owners prosecuted to the full extent of the law”.

It would be recalled that the company recently intercepted one of the company’s truck loaded with contrabands in Ibadan, arrested the drivers and handed them over to the Nigerian customs for further investigations and prosecutions.

The arrest was effected by a crack team of the Company’s security personnel led by its Chief Security Officer who acted on intelligence, bordering on misconduct by some of its drivers.

While handing over the drivers and his motorboy to the Customs Authority, Assistant General Manager, in charge of Security Services, CSP Ali Garba explained that the company has a surveillance section that monitors all his trucks and drivers’ activities.

Source: Dangote Group