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Business News of Friday, 8 February 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

SSNIT auctions Railways Company property

The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), has auctioned some property of the financially distressed Ghana Railways Company (GRC) to defray a GH¢12.8 million debt the company owed the trust.

The amount accumulated from non-payment of social security contributions of employees of the GRC, interest on the debt and costs awarded in favour of SSNIT.

As of Wednesday, February 6, 2013, the Railways Transit Quarters with many rooms, a large hall and kitchen for staff of the GRC on training or posting to the headquarters in Takoradi had been sold to a local oil service provider.

Additionally, a three-bedroom house also at the same location on the beach road had been sold.

When the Daily Graphic visited the facility yesterday, the occupants of the quarters had been asked to vacate them to enable the new owner to take over the premises. A bulldozer was ready to pull down the structure for the new owner to redevelop the site.

Some of the onlookers could not believe that the GRC that used to be the backbone of Ghana's economy could not pay its bills, forcing its creditors to auction the company's property to defray part of the debt.

The Area Prosecutor of SSNIT, Mr John Oduro-Tanoh, told the Daily Graphic that the issue had been dragging for some time and that SSNIT had obtained a court order to sell the transit quarters, railways training facility located at Essikado, and other property at Tarkwa.

He also said there was an intervention but after various negotiations, SSNIT was asked to sell the properties which are strategically located on the Beach Road in Takoradi.

Mr Oduro-Tanoh stated that although their previous employers did not pay their contributions; SSNIT could not turn away the retirees.

"We have a contract with all employees of all defaulting companies and we have to pay their benefits when they retire. Therefore, we have to take steps to retrieve the monies through legal and distress means," he said.

He indicated that it was important for contributions to be invested to generate returns for SSNIT to pay retirement benefits to workers who had served the country well.

The area prosecutor also said apart from the GRC, there were many other companies which had not paid the contributions of their employees.

He said SSNIT, through court actions, had obtained orders to sell the property of some defaulting companies to ensure the survival of the trust.