GOVERNMENT, THROUGH THE MINISTRY OF LANDS AND NATURAL RESOURCES, SUBSEQUENTLY ABROGATED THE CONTRACT ACCUSING THE COMPANY OF FAILING TO FUFILL ITS CORE MANDATE TO ENHANCE PRODUCTION.
Former Member of Parliament for Akwatia Constituency, Hon. Baba Jamal, has commended the Akufo-Addo government for its decision to take over the Great Consolidated Diamonds, formerly Ghana Consolidated Diamond Limited (GCDL) from the JOSPONG Group of Companies.
Government, over the weekend, announced the take over of the GCDL, the country's only commercial diamond company which owns the Akwatia Diamond Mines that has produced more than a 100 million carats of diamond since its inception of commercial operations in 1924.
HE EVEN ACCUSES THE MANAGEMENT OF THE DEFUNCT DIAMOND COMPANY OF SELLING OFF ASSETS OF THE MINE AS SCRAPS.
This came to light when the Acting Director-General of State Interest and Governance Authority (SIGA), Stephen Asamoah Boateng and his entourage toured the company to have first-hand information on activities there.
The GCDL was closed almost a decade ago when Sapper and Associates, who had won the rights to operate the mine, failed to inject the necessary funds.
This resulted in the then NDC government, which came to power in 2009, opening bids for the operations of the GCDL. A Ghanaian-owned company won the bid in 2011 ahead of international firms that had shown interest, and renamed it Great Consolidated Diamonds (GCD).
However, the Company, after winning the bid, failed to fulfill the contract obligations, thus prompting the current administration under SIGA, to use the Mining Law Clause (13) which stipulated that when such a thing occured, government should take back the company and manage it.
Government, through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, subsequently abrogated the contract accusing the company of failing to fufill its core mandate to enhance production.
Mr Asamoah Boateng later appointed a nine-member interim management committee made up of experts from the fields of law, mining, surveying, finance and security, to steer the affairs of the company.
But the management of JOSPONG Group which acquired the GCDL (and changed it to GCD) through the Ghana Government Diverstiture Implementation Committee (DIC) in June 2011, described the shutdown over contract breaches as unlawful.
According to the company, the reasons for government's actions are a misrepresentation of the agreed terms between the two parties.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the company said the action by the State Interest and Governance Authority was "illegal, unconstitutional and regrettable in a nation that is governed by the tenets of democracy."
"We emphasize our position that the conduct of SIGA amounts to total disregard for rule of law and good governance," the statement added.
Core Mandate Failed!
Commenting on Okay FM’s Ade Akye Abia Morning Show, Hon. Baba Jamal insisted that even though Great Consolidated Diamonds went through the bidding to win the company genuinely, the agreed plans upon which the Akwatia Mines were given out were not followed to the latter.
“Initially as part of the contract, the company had to give $17 million fiscal cash to the government and also in the agreed proposal with the government; the company had to invest $100 million over 5 years into the business. It was to create 50,000 indirect jobs and 5,000 direct jobs and all these are parts of the proposal”, he disclosed.
The former MP, who was one-time Deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, however, admitted that though the new owners of diamond mine did pump some monies in its operations, it was paltry.
“Great Consolidated Diamonds instead of giving $17 million dollars to the government for over 5 years rather gave Ghc20 million Cedis for them to renovate the various buildings in the company including the Club Houses. In fact, the company built the assembly of the Denkyembour District. Beyond the Ghc20 million, I think the necessary investment did not happen and mining is not like other businesses which you will start gradually because mining needs heavy investment. If you don’t pump money into mining, it will collapse’, he stated.
Scraps? I Support Govt's Decision
Hon Baba Jamal, who expressed his tacit support for government's decision to take over the diamond company, further revealed that the management of Great Consolidated Diamonds started selling parts of some equipment as scraps instead of pumping money into the business; a situation which compelled him to even call a stakeholders meeting in 2014 as a Member of Parliament to remind them (the JOSPONG Group) of their responsibilities as captured in the agreement.
“We sold the company to the investor to make it work and if you are not able to transform it, you don’t have to sell state properties...he invested some money but to be honest, I don’t think that the required investment capital was injected into it...I don’t think he followed the plans enshrined in the agreement upon which they won the bid to take over the company and if they had done that, its operations would not have grinded to a halt leading to its current sorry state...
“if the government has taken over the operations of the diamond company, I have no problem with it because I think that it is not right and proper for them to sell them off as scraps and...give out part of the company's concession to small scale miners when the real deal in the contract has not been met," Baba Jamal stated.