1D1F boss slams Ghana Rubber Estates argument by NDC’s Ogbamey Featured

The co-ordinator of the One District, One Factory programme has laid into a leading member of the opposition National Democratic Congress for spreading misinformation about the revival of Ghana Rubber Estates Ltd (GREL) and the commissioning of a new GREL plant in the Western Region.

Gifty Ohene-Konadu, who is in charge of the 1D1F programme nationally, said that Alfred Ogbamey, a well-known NDC commentator, had published a string of “uninformed opinions” in a social media “post full of errors” which bore no relationship to facts about the project.

The essence of his argument was that the new GREL plant cannot be described as a 1D1F project.

“In his post, he alleges that a revival or expansion of the company, which was set up in 1957, cannot be classified as a 1D1F project,” said Mrs Ohene-Konadu in a sharply worded response. “Mr Alfred Ogbamey got it all wrong as he has either no understanding or refuses to have understanding of the 1D1F model.”

Factories old and new

She explained: “The One District One Factory initiative, as being implemented by the Akufo-Addo government, covers both greenfield (new) and brownfield (old) companies. Thus, the initiative supports the setting up of new factories, as well as supporting existing strategic businesses that seek to expand operations.

“Expansion of existing industries is a key component of the government’s industrialisation agenda.”

Mrs Ohene-Konadu described how GREL had responded to 1D1F’s offer of “incentives, technical assistance and other support services that have rightly attracted several Ghanaian promoters and entrepreneurs seeking to establish or grow factories in the various districts”. Like with all other aspiring 1D1F enterprises, GREL’s managers submitted a business plan to the Ministry of Trade and Industry as part of an application for support under the industrial initiative.
“The application sought for support to establish a new plant at Tsibu, in the Ahanta West District of the Western Region, which is now known as the Tsibu processing plant,” the 1D1F co-ordinator said. “This location is different from the old factory at Dixcove, as wrongly stated by Mr Ogbamey.

“This project is a self-financed one and has had the added bonus of enjoying the tax incentives available to projects under the 1D1F programme.

“We are happy to see that these special incentives are encouraging existing industries to take bold steps for expansion.

“In so far as such an expansion impacts on the local economy by creating more jobs, sustaining or enhancing its competitiveness, increasing revenues and adding value to more local raw materials, such companies and their projects will be duly supported under the 1D1F programme,” she said.

Boost for economy

It is hoped that the Tsibu plant will give rubber production in the Western Region a significant boost. “In the next five years it is projected to produce rubber worth about €70 million [roughly GHC405 million] every year,” Mrs Ohene-Konadu said.

The plant will also provide local rubber farmers with a ready market, she added. GREL plans to export the vast bulk of its products.

“Currently, the company provides employment for 260 workers,” Mrs Ohene-Konadu said. “This is projected to increase to about 600 in the coming years. This will significantly boost the local economy in the district … and increase household incomes through its value chain activities.”

Competitive edge

The beginnings of Ghana Rubber Estates Ltd lie in a private plantation established by R T Briscoe in 1957 at Dixcove, in the Western Region. This plantation, of roughly 920 hectares, was nationalised by the Nkrumah government in 1960 and placed under the Agricultural Development Corporation. Subsequently, in 1962, after the company had acquired additional plantations in Abura and Subri, it was brought under the new State Farms Corporation.

In 1967 a joint-venture company involving the Government of Ghana and the United States’ Firestone Tyre Co took control of the plantation. It was this business that became Ghana Rubber Estates Ltd (GREL).

GREL became wholly state-owned in 1980 when Firestone sold its shares in the firm to the Ghana government. Ghana then entered into a financing agreement with the Caisse Française de Développement (now the Agence Française de Développement) to rehabilitate and manage the company’s plantations and build a new processing plant at Apimenim.

After the rehabilitation, a French management company, the Société Internationale de Plantation d’Hévéas. became the major shareholder in 1996.

The Akufo-Addo government does seek to provide support for new industries in the country under the 1D1F initiative, Mrs Ohene-Konadu said. However, “It is equally imperative to provide support for existing companies that need to expand due to the competitive advantage they possess in their respective industries/locations.

“The country stands to lose more and make the people in the catchment area economically worse off if such support is not provided for such companies,” she said.

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Last modified on Thursday, 05 March 2020 17:05


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