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General News of Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Source: Kwaku Afrifa

NPP Gov’t reminded to return Siaw’s assets

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has again been urged to act on various calls by well-meaning Ghanaians to return the property of the late Kwahu industrialist, Mr. J.K. Siaw seized by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) government to his family.

The latest call was made by Mr. Charles Nkansah Koranteng, a law student based in the United Kingdom (UK), who claimed to be speaking on behalf of a number of Ghanaians living abroad who are concerned about the feet dragging of the government after seven years in power.

Mr. Koranteng said in an interview that he had been reading a lot of news in various Ghanaian newspapers on the Tata affair and was surprised that the government had still not come out with any statement on the issue, despite the family of Siaw led by his eldest son, Apeadu Siaw’s appearance at the National Reconciliation Commission to state their case.

He said the Siaw saga was very crucial to the Kufuor administration’s drive to make the private sector the engine of growth.

According to him, the circumstances leading to the seizure of the company and other property of the late Siaw were still shrouded in mystery or half truths.

He said during the period, the public was made to understand that Tata Brewery was indebted to the state to the tune of GH¢3,000 for alleged evasion of taxes, although the then government was aware that the company and others had been given tax exemptions.

Mr. Koranteng alleged that some functionaries of SMC II demanded to be offered shares in the company and when this was denied them, they made life uncomfortable for the late Siaw.

He stated that after the harassment by the SMC II government, it later announced to the nation that the brewery had evaded tax of GH¢1,560 and penalty was imposed on the brewery.

“Under threats and duress, the brewery was made to pay GH¢500 and the balance of GH¢1,060 million was to be paid with shares to the state”, Mr. Koranteng claimed.

The basis for the GH¢1,560 tax was never explained to the company, at a time that the company had a credit balance of about GH¢400, being overpaid tax,” he alleged.

The law student also alleged that on February 22, 1979, SMCD 222 was passed with retrospective effect from July 1, 1977 to ensure that any tax concessions enjoyed by the brewery and another indigenous company, International Tobacco, were made payable retrospectively.

He said when the AFRC took charge of the affairs of the country, the late Siaw was arrested and his house and factory were ransacked by soldiers and several properties seized, ostensibly to offset the debt own by the brewery.

During the same period, it released some of Siaw’s property and bonds with banks for the purpose of defraying the alleged indebtedness to the state.

He noted that interestingly, when the AFRC came onto the scene, it passed AFRCD 13 which repealed SMCD 222, thereby repudiating any debt owed by the brewery.

Mr. Koranteng said the reason given for the confiscation of the brewery was unwarranted.

He, therefore, called on the NPP government to revisit the matter and restore the property to the Siaw family.

Mr Koranteng said any positive action by the government would encourage Ghanaians and even foreigners who want to invest in the country to do so.

He also pledged to mobilize Ghanaians in the UK concerned about the continued seizure of Siaw’s property to post their dissatisfaction on the websites.

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