President John Dramani Mahama has charged members of the reconstituted Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) to sell remaining government assets on divestiture before December 2016 to curtail further maintenance expenditure on them.?

Inaugurating the new DIC on Friday, the Minister of State responsible for public-private partnerships, Rashid Pelpuo, speaking for the president asked the members to ?be proactive and move beyond being disinterested salesmen, and encourage and facilitate the business plans of investors by working with other sectors of government to ensure the survival of local industry?.

He said, in all cases, local investors must be given priority and foreign investment collaborations should be encouraged.
Finance Minister Seth Terkper chairs the DIC, which has seven other members that include Trade Minister, Haruna Iddrisu; Employment and Labour Relations Minister, Nii Armah Ashietey; and Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress, Kofi Asamoah.

The DIC was created more than two decades ago when Ghana began structural adjustment reforms designed to cut the size of the state and liberalise trade and investment. The unit has led the privatisation of many state-owned companies, but has been criticised for working slowly — as some companies have yet to be sold in the more-than-two decades since its creation — and failing to fully retrieve monies from asset buyers.

Some analysts have said the state could have held onto the better-performing companies and privatised them through public listing on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), which was set up in 1990 after the divestiture programme had begun.
Among the assets remaining to be sold is included Abosso Glass Factory, Bonsa Tyre Factory, Bolga Meat Factory, EREDEC Hotel, Catering Rest House, and GNTC House in Tamale.

President Mahama asked the DIC to resource its legal department to ensure due diligence is conducted before every divestiture is undertaken. He also asked the members to resolve outstanding issues with previous divestitures, including non-payment of the liabilities of some divested companies, and to submit the unit?s audited accounts that have been outstanding since 2009.

?The availability of legal support will assist the Attorney General to respond promptly to numerous suits before the courts and the Labour Commission, and also to commence legal action for the retrieval of outstanding divestiture receipts,? he said.

?You must in all cases consider the concerns of the various stakeholders to each divestiture: such as the interest of workers, the chiefs and peoples of the localities of a company, and most importantly the long-term interest of the economy,? he added.

Mr. Terkper said there remain some state enterprises that are a burden on the government?s budget, adding that the committee will establish clear modalities on how state-owned assets should be disposed of during its tenure.

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