Business News of Saturday, 2 February 2013
Source: Ernest Addo/New Crusading Guide/Ghana
Under the Better Ghana Agenda of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), problems of the lack of supply of raw materials, break down of production machine, debts, and non-payment of workers, has caused for the umpteenth time, the collapse of the Ayensu Starch Company Limited (ASCO), in the Central Region.
Contrary to the spirited defence by management that the company was in good shape late last year and that it was gearing up for increased production this year after workers have returned from the Christmas holidays, this paper has gathered that the Starch Company is now a white elephant.
Earlier, when the company collapsed, management at the time said due to the numerous power fluctuations which occurred when the company began operations, part of the machines got damaged and they had to secure the services of technical experts from Starch International Institute, Denmark, to fix the damaged parts to resume production in 2008.
Also, Farmers contracted by the company to produce cassava to feed the factory could only produce 13,000 tonnes which was not sufficient to meet the demands of the factory.
Now, what has accounted for the collapse of the company is not finances but the alleged sheer incompetence on the part of the District Chief Executive (DCE) Mr. Sampson Abbey Armah, who also doubles as the coordinator of ASCO.
It was discovered when this paper visited cassava farms early this year, that the raw materials for the production of the starch were cultivated over two years ago, had not been harvested, talk more of transporting them to the factory to extract the starch for exportation.
The paper also found that workforce of 300 of which 120 work on the company’s farm has reduced drastically due to non payment of salaries that now the company can only boast of about 100 workers.
ASCO is the pilot of the Cassava Starch Project under the President's Special Initiative (PSI) for Agri-Business. It costs seven million dollars to build under the Kufuor government.
But the coordinator, reacting to the story in a telephone interview recently stated that “I just resumed office, but if they want me to take my hands off the company it’s not a problem; I will do that. Every company has a way of managing its affairs”.
“We are doing our analysis. Because of the power outages we are considering whether we should go ahead in the midst of the power outages so that we lose or we wait and in conclusion we decided to hold on and wait for proper flow of power so I don’t know what they mean,” he added.
On the allegation that the company had received enough money but he was refusing to release it for the day-to-day running of the company he retorted: “It’s not true that they’ve given us enough money. If we go and take salary, is it enough money to run the company? And if it is enough, is it the money that we use to generate the power?