The founder of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, assured the people of Anyinase in the Central Region of building a sugar factory for them when he served as a minister in the Kufuor administration but failed to honour his promise, a former Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry in late President John Evans Atta Mills’ administration, Dr Joseph Samuel Annan, has revealed.
Speaking about some concerns raised by Dr Nduom and some opposition party members about the president’s recent inauguration of the revamped Komenda Sugar Factory, Dr Annan told Prince Minkah on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Tuesday June 14 that Dr Nduom’s criticism of the project was befuddling since he (Dr Nduom), during Mr Kufuor’s tenure in office, pushed residents of Anyinase to go into sugarcane production with his promise of putting up a sugar factory there, yet no factory was established for the processing of the sugarcane that was grown in the area.
“Dr Nduom in 2004 went to Anyinase, I think he was there with his brother-in-law, John Sterling, and said: ‘We are coming to build a sugar factory here’ and they grew sugarcane. He was an MP [Member of Parliament] at that time and a Minister of State in the Kufour administration. So, some people started growing the sugarcane. He promised the people that the factory was coming and the factory never came,” he said.
According to him, that was a clear case of “putting the cart before the horse”. Dr Annan argued that if the pricing of sugarcane was right, farmers in the country would produce sugarcane that would feed the factory.
A few days after President John Mahama’s inauguration of the factory, Dr Nduom took issue with the government over the viability of the plant by posing a number of questions.
Dr Nduom, a businessman and politician, said although the factory is a good project and Groupe Nduom was ready to support it to become successful: “I have some questions based on the Ayensu Starch Factory, the Kumasi Shoe Factory and the Pwalugu Tomato Factory started under the NPP and NDC administrations that have proven less than able to deliver the projected jobs and sustainability. Also, the fish processing factory sited in Elmina that so far has been underwhelming in its performance: Who are the owners of this sugar factory – private and public sector? Where will the sugarcane come from immediately to provide raw materials for this factory? Why did the raw material project not come first? How will we ensure that the sugar produced will be competitive against imports? Will the government protect this factory’s products and how? What measures have been put in place to insulate this factory against partisan politics so it is not abandoned when a party other than the NDC wins power?”
Addressing students at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) on the issue of sugarcane for the factory, the 2012 presidential aspirant said: “They come and tell us that they are putting a sugar factory there. We are all happy when there is a sugar factory coming so that we don’t import as much sugar, but why are they employing people? There is advertisement in the newspapers that they are employing people for the sugar factory and I have gone to walk around there.
“Sugar factory, but where is the sugarcane? They are not growing any sugarcane in Komenda or in Elmina or in Kissi or on any of those areas. I am old enough to know that I came to meet a sugar factory in Komenda and all over by the roadside they grew sugarcane. So, if we have put a factory there funded by the Indians and there are some Indian people there and they are now recruiting some Ghanaians, where is the sugarcane going to come from to be turned into sugar?
“What it means is that somebody is going to import the raw material to come to Ghana so that it can be processed and they will show it to us as sugar from Ghana and what will be the value added? When I look at it I say that is my tax money that they are playing with.”
However, Dr Annan said: “I do not think that the argument being made that the factory is ready but there is no sugarcane is factual. There is sugarcane; the quantities are limited because the production went down. So, we feel that the right price should be offered and sugarcane will be available,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Trade, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah has indicated that in addition to buying from outgrowers, the government would acquire lands to cultivate sugarcane to feed the factory.
“The factory intends to acquire more lands, and chiefs in the Central and Western Regions have all been invited to offer lands that the factory could own for purposes of feeding the [plant] as well as buying from ordinary farmers who are outgrowers but who will enter into an agreement with the factory. So, until the factory gets enough of its own land [to cultivate], it will continue to depend mostly on outgrowers like it is doing now to feed the factory.”