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Business News of Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Source: B&FT

Airports Company & Meteo impasse ...Ministries in talks

The Transport and Communications Ministries are engaged in talks to find ways of resolving the impasse between the Ghana Airports Company Limited (GACL) and the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMET) over reported non-payment for meteorological services rendered by the GMET from 2007 to 2013.

The two Ministries, which have direct oversight over the two feuding entities, hope to resolve the issue amicably in the shortest possible time. “The two Ministries and the agency [GMET] are meeting to resolve the issue. The GACL is contesting the claim for the payment [of US$2million to the GMET], ” Mr. Twumasi Ankrah Selby, Chief Director of the Ministry of Transport, told the B&FT in an interview.

Last week, the Director-General of the Ghana Meteorological Agency, Captain Stephen Komla (Rtd), said his outfit is considering suing the GACL in order to retrieve about US$2million owed it for meteorological services provided to airport facilities in the country.

The dispute seems to be over whether both the industry regulator, Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), and GACL should be paying for the services of GMET, or it is the GCAA alone that should pay -- which is the position held by the Airports Company.

The issue dates back to 2007 upon the separation of the regulatory and operational functions of the GCAA, which had signed an agreement with the GMET to pay a percentage of its landing fees to the Agency.

While the GCAA maintained the regulatory function, a separate company -- the GACL -- was set up. The company was registered in January 2006 with the responsibility for planning, developing, managing and maintaining all airports and aerodromes in Ghana: namely the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), the regional airports in Kumasi, Tamale and Sunyani as well as various airstrips.

The Company commenced business on 1st January 2007. With the two entities fully operational, airport landing fees were shared between them -- 60 percent to Ghana Airport Company and 40 percent to the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority.

“The two entities were expected to pay a percentage of their respective landing fees to the GMET. The GCAA, after the decoupling, has continued to pay a percentage of its landing fees to the GMET, but the GACL has reneged on its responsibility,” a highly placed source in the aviation industry told the B&FT.

While acknowledging that the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the industry regulator, has made regular payments for services rendered, Capt. Rtd. Komla said in spite of several reminders his outfit is yet to receive any payments from the GACL.

The GMET in a correspondence to some stakeholders, which was seen by the B&FT, is seeking their support in retrieving the monies from the GACL.

The Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMET), set up to provide efficient and reliable meteorological information to end-users, currently faces difficulties in securing funds and recovering part of its costs of providing general, aeronautical, and maritime meteorological information.

Due to the challenges, stakeholders say there is need to re-examine ways of funding the Agency to enable it execute its mandate. “We need to find a way of resourcing the GMET going forward, because it is currently grossly under-funded,” the source said.

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