Pampered Alan Kyerematen  Unconvincing At His Vetting Plays Smart At Vetting

Alan Kyerematen, Trade and Industry Minister-designate Alan Kyerematen, Trade and Industry Minister-designate

The Trade and Industry Minister-designate, last Friday at his vetting in Parliament, came across as someone who was not on top of his brief, although he had been at the same ministry in the last four years.

Alan Kyerematen, came unprepared for the interview and in the end, the Appointment Committee members also came across as protective of him and not ready to embarrass him with questions he could not answer.

From the operations of the Ghana Trade Fair Company, the controversial replacement of GCNet/West Blue at the ports with UNIPASS, One District One Factory (1DF1) initiative to Komenda Sugar Factory, the man angling to replace Nana Akufo-Addo as leader of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and President of Ghana, sounded unconvincing in his delivery.

On 1D1F, Mr. Kyerematen, attempted to play smart one on the Appointments Committee, when he surprisingly claimed he had forgotten the list of companies that had been put up across the country as part of the 1D1F initiative.

He was quick to say that 139,331 jobs have been created out of 232 factories as part of the 1DF1 initiative, but claimed he had forgotten the regional distribution of the factories on his way to the vetting.

Many had said the factories don't exist, indeed, the last time President Akufo-Addo, attempted and gave out some names, many people went out to dispute the President's claim with some saying some of the factories had long been in existence before the emergence of the Akufo-Addo government.

Others had also revealed that some of the factories mentioned, had only applied for government's financial support for existing companies as part of the 1D1F, but had not gotten anything as at the time President Akufo-Addo mentioned their name.

One such factory was located in Hohoe in the Volta Region, and owned by John Peter Amewu's family. They are into timber processing into plywood. It had been in operation since the 1970s.

Observers are of the view Mr. Kyerematen was trying to avoid embarrassment by having his claims disputed just like that of President Akufo-Addo.

But his lowest point was when he was confronted with the situation of Komenda Sugar Factory and why it has not been running in the last four years, he has been at the ministry.

He described the factory as a "controversial" project which had engaged the attention of the Trade Ministry particularly his deputy Robert Ahomka Lindsey saying companies had expressed interest in the factory but there many issues surrounding it.

He mentioned that lands which would have been used to cultivate sugarcane to feed the factory, had been encroached upon.

But his biggest revelation on the day was when he claimed that the factory which was valued for over 30 million dollars in 2016 under the Mahama administration, had been revalued at a little over 15 million dollars under the Akufo-Addo administration, less than 11 months after the initial price.

This shocking claim drew the bale out of the members of the Minority side of the Parliament.

Their shock was compounded by Mr Kyerematen's revelation that the valuation under President Mahama and the revaluation under President Akufo-Addo were done by the same company; PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Asked whether he questioned the development, he mentioned that he carried out a forensic audit into the matter using the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) as well as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to do the additional auditing and they had validated the revaluation of the assets of the sugar factory.

To this, Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu and Minority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, demanded for another expert opinion aside that Pricewaterhouse Coopers, insisting that the factory had been undervalued.

Haruna Iddrisu, in particular took issues with the new price because as the trade minister who led the discussion and the sod cutting for the construction of the company, he was well vested in the project.

Another issue which emerged at the vetting was the UNIPASS transaction, and Mr Kyerematen's attempt to justify it, sounded unpersuasive.

Mr Kyerematen, claimed that since UNIPASS took over the operation at the port, revenue had increased significantly and rubbished claims that there will be judgement debt in favour of GCNet and West Blue.

He claimed that he could not understand why the Mahama government had renewed the GCNet and West Blue deal two years ahead of the expiration of an existing contract.

To this again, the Minority Leader stepped in, saying he had signed that contract and the renewal was premised on good performance, hence the renewal would have been occasioned by the good work of the companies.

Here again, Mr Kyerematen was told to go back and study the GCNet/West Blue deal very well ahead of a possible judgement debt.

On Ghana Trade Fair Authority and the demolishing of the properties owned by companies, Mr Kyerematen hid behind claims that he doesn't go interfering in the works of institutions under him, but rather allows their heads and board of directors to run them.

But he attempted to feign innocence of one other thing, when Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, asked whether he had not received a petition from one company and met them, to which he admitted.

He also claimed that he did not appoint the CEO of the Trade Fair. He was also unaware of an agreement for the takeover of the trade fair by a foreign company which has since been terminated by the CEO, Dr. Agnes Adu.

Mr Kyerematen, also disclosed that "76 of the projects are currently operational whilst 107 of the projects are under construction. 49 projects are ready for construction to commence within the first half of the year".

"Through the intervention of 1D1F, 139,331 direct and indirect jobs have so far been created by the 76 companies that are already operational. 285,915 additional direct and indirect jobs are projected from the projects that are under construction," he added.

He also indicated that 68 of the 232 1D1F projects are existing companies.

"Currently we have 232 1D1F projects at various stages of implementation. Contrary to comments that 1D1F is just an attempt to brush up on existing companies, if you look at the statistics, only 64 of the 232 companies are existing. 168 of them are new companies."

The Trade and Industry Minister-designate added that the 1D1F initiative is one of the most revolutionary programmes since Ghana's independence.

"It is appropriate for me to indicate that the One District, One Factory initiative, which has been led by the Ministry of Trade and Industry is one of the most revolutionary interventions to have been introduced in our country since independence. It goes to the core of bringing industry and development to the doorsteps of ordinary people and that is why we pursued this whole programme with aggression."

The 1D1F is a private sector-led initiative envisioned by President Akufo-Addo to create the necessary conducive environment for businesses to access funding from financial institutions and other support services from government agencies so as to establish factories and production units in the various districts of the country.

It seeks to change the structure of Ghana's economy from one which is dependent on import and export of raw material to one which is focused on manufacturing, value addition, and export of processed goods by processing raw materials found largely in the 275 districts of the country into finished or semi-finished goods.