Exporters defend Agric Min-designate’s decision on Export Terminal Contract

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FTC, SPEG say abrogated contract is in country’s interest

Two companies integral in the export of horticulture produce from the county, Fruit Terminal Company (FTC) and Sea Freight Pineapple Exporters of Ghana (SPEG), have come to clarify circumstances that led to the abrogation of the Fruit and Export Terminal Contract of 2015 by the Ghana Ports and Harbours (GPHA) on express instructions from the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto.

The two companies have stated in a statement that: “During the parliamentary vetting of the Minister-designate of Food and Agriculture and also the Minister-designate of Transport, references were made to the cancellation of a contract between Ghana Ports & Harbours (GPHA) and Fruit Export Terminal Company Limited (FET) which could lead to the payment of a judgment debt of US$50,000,000.

“Farmers and Exporters who use Port Tema, were scandalised by the proceedings in parliament and the subsequent discussions on radio and television.

“The slant that was given the subject, based on the communication from the Director-General of GPHA to FET which created the impression FET is some innocent company whose operations were being unduly interfered with by the Ministers of Food and Agriculture and Transport, was self-serving and painted a wrong picture to parliament and the public.”

According to the two companies, the directive given by the Agric Minister after a series of meetings were held between GPHA, FTC and FET was in the best interest of the nation as there had been some untoward action by the GPHA contravening a 2008 agreement signed by the government of Ghana and a joint venture company called Fruit Terminal Company (FTC),

“The government of Ghana through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) signed a Management Agreement (MA) with exporters of horticultural products by sea, represented by key exporters at the time – Sea Freight Pineapple Exporters of Ghana (SPEG) and Marexport Ghana Limited, a sister company of GEL, the largest exporters of horticultural products in Ghana (banana & pineapple). The exporters formed a joint venture company called Fruit Terminal Company (FTC) for the purpose of implementing the MA. The third party to this agreement was GPHA, the regulator at the port” the statement said.

It further explained that over the years the GPHA had not been fair to the agreement, withholding the issuance of some licences to FTC and leading to the creation of the FET – whose contract was terminated upon instruction of the Agric Minister.

The statement further explained that: “The Minister of Agriculture cannot be sanctioned for insisting on the full implementation of one of its flagship policies which is being crudely disrupted by vested interests at the port; and the minister must also not be made responsible for wrong agreements which GPHA knowingly entered into when they should not, and are now contriving to claim judgment debts against itself.

“The farmers and exporters are not going to rest until their licences are renewed by GPHA for them to continue their work. Farmers and exporters have been treated with disdain and contempt by GPHA and Supermaritime for far too long, in spite of millions in investments made in pineapple, mango, papaya and banana plantations and thousands of workers employed.

“GPHA is doing so because they are the regulators and think they have the power to do so. This is an abuse and should stop now. Farmers and exporters intend to carry out the full mandate given to them by MOFA under the management agreement signed in 2008, no matter what. We serve notice.

“We conclude by saying both ministers have upheld our honest and truthful interpretation that we are entitled to our licences, and this will be upheld by our Courts – that the concession agreement between GPHA and FET does not preclude FTC from existing and operating.

“Therefore, any misstep by GPHA that would incur a judgment debt should be placed squarely at the doorstep of GPHA which created it – and not the Minister of MOFA who is implementing a flagship policy for the government of Ghana for the benefit of the horticulture industry to make horticulture produce on the World Horticulture Market competitive and beneficial to Ghana as a nation.”

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