WORKERS of the West African Mills Company Limited (WAMCO), a cocoa processing company, based in Takoradi, have called on the government to initiate a forensic audit into the circumstances leading to the collapse of the company.
According to workers, the company, which has Hermann Opferkuch, a German Company as the majority shareholder in a joint venture agreement it signed with the government in 1993 owed the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) a whopping 33 million euros and additional $15 million. The debt was incurred from cocoa beans supplied to WAMCO by COCOBOD. Apart from this, the company also owes the Electricity Company of Ghana, fuel suppliers and transport services. When COCOBOD realized that WAMCO was not making any efforts to retire the debt, it ceased further supply of cocoa beans to the Takoradi based company.
Addressing a news conference in Takoradi last week Friday, the local Secretary of the Industrial and Commercial Union (ICU), Mr. Solomon Kotei, blamed the current state of the company on poor management spearheaded by the Germans. According to him, management is currently importing cocoa beans from Ivory Coast for processing and then exports the finished product to Germany, where it is sold below the prevailing world Market price. The local union of ICU described the decision as unthinkable.
WAMCO was established in 1993 under a Public-Private Joint Ventureship agreement between the government of Ghana and a private partner from Germany, Hermann Opferkuch. The foreign partner has 60 % shares, whilst the government controls the remaining 40%. Continuing, the General Secretary pointed out that since the Majority shareholder took over the company, the minority shareholder had had no say in the running of the business and that not even a pesewa had been paid to the minority shareholder as dividend or tax.
“Since the investor took over the company, no audited accounts have been submitted to the Board of Directors and yet the majority shareholder keeps drumming home that the business is making losses”. It is upon this that the workers are calling on the government which is the minority shareholder to take the right steps to ensure that the Majority Shareholder respects the dictates of the Joint Ventureship agreement.
The Joint Venture agreement defines the fate of the 250 workers of the company and seeks to protect the hard earned investment of COCOBOD that was traded into the Joint Ventureship to avoid loss to the state. The workers, who were all clad in red arm bands further called on the minority shareholder to take legitimate steps to abrogate the joint venture agreement and fish out for the many genuine strategic investors to re-invest in the business.
General Secretary Kotei assured the minority shareholder that the Union was ready to engage it on the way forward for the success of the company.Earlier, the leadership of the Union presented a petition to the Regional Minister for onward submission to the Minority shareholder, the government, for immediate attention.