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06 June 2016

Mahama’s 7,000 jobs from sugar factory an illusion – MP

John-Dramani-MahamaThe Member of Parliament for Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abbrem, Nana Ato Arthur has suggested that the President’s hope of creating 7,000 jobs from the recently revived Komenda Sugar Factory is a pipe dream.

President John Dramani Mahama inaugurated the Komenda Sugar Factory last week in the Central Region, where he said the facility will create over 7,000 jobs to ensure the sustainable development of sugarcane plantations.

But Mr. Ato Arthur like many other critics is of view that the planning that went into the revival of the defunct factory at the cost of US$24.5 million was not concrete enough, particularly when the raw material, sugarcane, is not readily available in the short term.

“People are not going to get employment. It is just a wish. It goes with no plan,” the New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP stated in an interview on the Citi Breakfast Show.

Government rushed to commission factory

Mr. Ato Arthur, a former Minister of the Central Region, explained that he was in favor of the project succeeding, however, he believes government had prepared poorly and was in haste, thereby compromising the achievement of its objectives.

“We should support the project; however, there are a lot of challenges. I believe that we are running when we are to walk… Are we really going to achieve these objectives? We have a factory without the raw materials. There is no sugarcane, not even an acre planted in Komenda.”

As an example, the Mr. Ato Arthur questioned if government had factored in their source of water for irrigation since the primary water source in the area is “non-existent.”

“The primary canal that leads to River Pra, where we are going to get water for irrigation, is non-existent. Everything has collapsed. It has not been rehabilitated,” he explained.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Ekow Spio Garbrah, has revealed that 60 percent of the raw materials for the factory will come from sugarcane out growers. But Mr. Ato Arthur believes there are no out growers to supply the raw material to begin with.

“Another area is that we are going to get the raw materials from the out growers. Ask me, where are they?” he questioned.

The MP further conveyed his skepticism of the new project by stating that the money being offered sugarcane out growers for their produce would not be an adequate incentive.

“Assuming they exist, a ton of sugar cane for wherever you cart to Komenda is going to earn you 60 cedis plus a bonus of 10 cedis…Who is going to be attracted to send a ton of sugar cane to Komenda for a paltry 70 cedis.”

Mr. Ato Arthur’s comments follow that of the founder of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, who is also former MP for Komenda Edina Eguafo Abirem (KEEA).

According to him, although the Komenda Sugar Factory is a project his Groupe Nduom conglomerate could participate in, he wonders where the sugarcane will come from to feed the factory to create the needed jobs.

Dr. Nduom also expressed fears that government could end up importing sugarcane to power the factory, a situation that will defeat the objective of value addition, and also deny locals of the promised jobs.

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