The acting Director General of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Paul Asare Ansah, has inaugurated a nine-member committee to develop modalities for the Port Infrastructure Development Fund in Tema.
Inaugurating the committee, which has a six month period to finish its work, he charged them to give their best and carry out wide range consultations to ha ve the best modalities to establish the fund.
According to the Director General, the Port infrastructure development fund is long overdue, hence the need to start it now.
He said when implemented, it would help to rescue the industry to make it an effective Ghanaian industry without having to borrow to develop and expand the Ports of Ghana.
“If we had been responsive enough to the needs of the future and established the fund some sixteen years ago when the Port infrastructure development fund was mooted, we would not have gone for any external loan to expand our ports.”
He said the Port expansion project, which is currently underway, would have been funded from the development fund with far more surplus, since enough money would have been accrued in the pool instead of getting assistance from foreigners who would own the facility for Thirty-Five (35) years.
He tasked the team that “whatever modalities you come up with must be aimed at rescuing the industry from a cycle of borrowing, dependency and poverty, but instead put the Port on a cycle of prosperity befitting of a middle income status country.”
He said the port’s lack of financial strength, is leading to its gradual shift of control from Ghanaians into the hands of foreign interest.
He said it is important that a financial muscle is developed by the Port to rescue the industry from foreign hands into Ghanaian hands, hence the need to come up with a funding that will galvanize support to enhance the capacity of Ghanaians to participate more effectively in the maritime industry.
The Port infrastructure Development Fund when finally established; would become the ultimate solution and help minimize the cost of doing business in the Port.
Mr. Asare Ansah noted that, currently there is severe pressure from some private operators in the Port to increase tariff which his outfit is resisting.
“As we speak, we are under severe pressure from some of the private operators in the Port to even increase tariffs. We are resisting that pressure; but at the end of the day, they have put in the money and therefore they determine the level of profitability they may want to harness from their investment; so at a point in time, we may have to yield to that pressure of tariff increment.”
“This cycle will only change when the Port infrastructure belongs solely to Ghana which obviously our motive will not only be profit but efficiency in the facilitation of trade between Ghana and our international partners” he added.
He further added that, without financial muscle of the Port to back it, despite all legislations that would be enacted to give upper hand to the local person, it would not yield any positive result.
The Acting General Manager of Audit at the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, Roderick Ocloo, who is the Chairman of the nine member committee, noted that, the team would work hard to ensure the right modalities are put in place to enable the establishment of the fund.
Other members of the committee include the executive Secretary of importers and exporters Association Sampson Asaaki Awingobit, Erasmus Mensah, finance manager GPHA, Ignatius Afrifa, Scanship, Kwaku Okyere Darko, technical steering committee member GIFF, Nick Danso Adjei, Stephen Acheampong, Enoch Adu Authur and Samuel Ntow Kumi.
By: Elvis Washington/citifmonline.com/Ghana