Friday, August 26, 2011

RANGE ROVER EVOQUE: Great to look at, fun to drive on road

Spectacular concept car looks, a fun driving experience, efficient engines and peerless off-road ability makes the sexy looking Range Rover - RANGE ROVER EVOQUE, a hit, writes Ekow Essabra-Mensah, from Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Indeed, the Land Rover Evoque has turned the groundbreaking Land Rover concept car into reality, faithfully capturing the spirit of its landmark cross-coupé design. The lightest and most fuel-efficient Range Rover ever, the Evoque demonstrates the marque's commitment to environmental sustainability, bringing capability to the premium SUV class.

The Range Rover Evoque is available in two distinctive versions: the stunning coupé model, which precisely mirrors the concept car design, and the stylish 5-Door, which adopts a slightly higher rear roofline for extra practicality and greater family appeal.

Both coupé and 5-Door Evoque models stay true to the core values of the Range Rover brand, providing premium levels of craftsmanship, luxury, performance and renowned Land Rover all-terrain capability, but in a more compact package.

“The Range Rover Evoque is ideally suited to urban driving, with its agile handling, compact size and green performance, and it’s fitting that our Pulse of the City campaign is focused on capturing the spirit of city life,” said John Edwards, Land Rover's Global Brand Director.
He made this statement during the global media test drive in Anglesey Island, Liverpool, United Kingdom.

Exciting Times

Speaking in an interview with B&FT, Range Rover ‘s Graham Miller said: “ These are exciting times for our business as we continue to widen our portfolio with this all-new addition to the Range Rover line-up. Not only will the Range Rover Evoque increase our worldwide market share, but it demonstrates our commitment to build sustainable, yet highly desirable products.

“True to the Range Rover brand, the Evoque aims to effortlessly deliver premium levels of craftsmanship, luxury and performance, but wrapped into a more compact package and is expected to be available from late 2011 at Land Rover dealers.

“The fact that the Evoque is Range Rover's cleanest and most efficient model ever means it is cheaper than its stablemates to own and run. Great ride and handling on and off-tarmac give it even more appeal.

“The Evoque puts the hugely desirable Range Rover brand within the reach of compact executive car buyers for the very first time,” he said.

Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Design Director said: “Customers like to make their own unique statement with a vehicle and we have provided individuals with lots of opportunity to personalise their new Range Rover Evoque, whilst maintaining the essence of the design.

“The options on offer are spectacular and customers can use our 'designers choice' to guide their selection, with carefully co-ordinated colour and material combinations that have their own distinctive character.”

Three design themes

Uniquely in the compact SUV segment, the Range Rover Evoque allows customers to specify a lavishly appointed cabin, with soft, premium leather and beautifully tailored, twin-needle stitching providing a luxurious finish to almost every surface of the instrument panel, doors and seats. Rather than using a traditional trim hierarchy, the Range Rover Evoque gives customers the choice of three design themes: the cool and contemporary ‘Pure’, the luxurious ‘Prestige’, and the bold and sporting ‘Dynamic’.

Customers can further tailor these themes with different designer interiors, option packs, standalone and accessory items, providing even more freedom to specify the car of their choice.

Safety and Security

Both active and passive safety technologies on Range Rover Evoque are state-of-the-art. The high strength safety cell, airbags and advanced restraint systems provide an exceptional degree of safety for you and your passengers.

The powerful all-disc braking system is complemented by the latest generation of active electronic safety systems, while the advanced traction and stability technology is configured to maximise performance and safety in the widest range of driving conditions.

Suspension and Steering

Advanced technologies have been deployed to enhance suspension performance. The seamless combination of suspension and steering technology helps to deliver superior on-road ride and dynamic handling.

In addition, lightweight aluminium chassis components are used extensively on Range Rover Evoque, improving suspension performance by increasing stiffness and reducing unsprung weight, as well as contributing towards reduced weight and increased efficiency.

Driving and Transmission

The responsive six-speed automatic transmission – standard on petrol, optional on the SD4 diesel engine – features Drive Select, an advanced rotary gearshift, which rises up to ‘handshake’ the driver when the engine is switched on. For even greater driver involvement, paddle shift controls on the steering wheel allow you to change gear manually, when you choose to.

Interior Features

Intuitive technology to enhance your comfort and convenience includes advanced Voice Control and two multi-function high-definition colour displays.

The central 8 inch Touch-screen is the signature Range Rover control and display interface for communication and entertainment, while directly in front of the driver there’s a new 5 inch colour information display. Subtle, customer configurable, interior mood lighting creates a
signature Range Rover driving experience day and night.

Sold in 160 markets worldwide

The Range Rover Evoque will be manufactured at Land Rover's multi award-winning Halewood plant in Merseyside, UK. The car will go on sale in more than 160 countries worldwide from the late 2011 at Land Rover dealers .

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

After PAC exposures, Kan Dapaah suggests way forward

Albert Kan-Dapaah, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, has urged strong commitment to the implementation of a national medium-term plan (MTP) that will guide the national budgeting process and be mainstreamed in all subsequent sectoral strategies.

“This development plan must form a blueprint of sound economic policies and national projects that can be implemented to ensure sustainable growth and development of the economy, and should list programmes and projects that will be undertaken during the plan period.

“The MTP introduces a development paradigm that locks in the macroeconomic stability recorded so far, and anchors the economy on a pedestal of sustainable economic growth, employment-creation and poverty-reduction.”

The current medium-term plan, the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) covers the period 2010-2013 and is aimed to ensure and sustain macro-economic stability; enhance private-sector competitiveness; modernise agriculture; develop infrastructure; and ensure transparent and accountable governance.

The GSGDA is the successor to the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II), which covered the period 2006-2009 and was linked to Ghana’s debt-forgiveness programme with external creditors.

According to Kan Dapaah, a national medium-term plan should cut across political-party governments, and be seen as the nation’s strategy for social and economic development.

A medium-term plan should respond to the mandate set out to support the restoration of economic stability and growth in the country, he said.

Speaking on a wide range of national issues during an interaction with members of the Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (IFEJ), Mr. Kan-Dapaah, said: “There should be an annual budget that draws from the MTP developed by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) to guide public expenditure.”

Touching on the massive corruption revealed at the sittings of the Public Accounts Committee, he explained that the country lacks a management accounting system that could track expenditure on public-sector activities, and this has contributed greatly to the magnitude of corruption in the public sector.

“We need to have a way of stopping the magnitude of corruption in the public sector.”

Various studies into public financial management in Ghana have revealed grave weaknesses in the internal control systems of MDAs. Among the problems that have persistently come up include failure to follow laid-down procedures, poor record-keeping practices, and blatant fraud perpetrated by some public officials.

Mr. Kan-Dapaah called for a stronger collaboration between the Public Accounts Committee and IFEJ to help unearth the corrupt practices and hold public sector workers accountable.

“The main concern of the Ghanaian is accountability for the use of public funds. That is why rules, regulations and guidelines are given to institutions that benefit from the Consolidated Fund in the disbursement of monies,”

These violations and improprieties, he said, allow room for malfeasance and loss of revenue to the state.

Albert Kan Dapaah noted that it is important to follow up audit queries with the appropriate sanctions against culpable officials, especially in the extreme cases of fraud, forgery and other financial crimes.

Ray Ankrah, Managing Director, Ray Ankrah & Associates, a firm of Chartered Accountant & Tax consultants, urged government to develop guidelines to encourage Ghanaians outside the country to pay tax.

“Wherever Ghanaians are, they must be encouraged to pay tax and [made to understand] that their contribution to national development identifies them as Ghanaians.”

He called for a new financial reporting management system for the public sector to help monitor public expenditure and track government receipts.
This would help reduce the magnitude of corruption in government departments and agencies, he said.

The finance ministry is currently overseeing the implementation of the Ghana Integrated Financial Management and Information System (GIFMIS) project that aims to create systems to strengthen financial management in public-sector institutions.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Commodity exchange set for 2012

A commodity exchange and development of a regulated warehouse receipt system will be ready by 2012, Chairman of National Committee on Commodity Exchange, Joe Tackie, has disclosed.

It will help assist farmers to gain easy access to ready markets - both locally and internationally.

“Ideally, by last quarter of 2012, the operation of the commodities exchange should take-off if we are able to complete the regulatory framework and implementation of the strategies within the timelines set,” he said.

“Government has set up a special body comprising officials from Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Food and Agriculture, Trade and Industry, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as the Ghana Standards Board, Ghana Grains Council and Buffer Stock Company to set out the rules of engagement,” Mr. Tackie told B&FT in an interview.

The exchange is expected to begin trading in agricultural products and other raw materials like wheat, barley, sugar, maize, coffee, cotton, millet among products.

He explained that the committee is currently finalising the evaluation and appointment of a consultancy firm for the development of the legal and regulatory framework. This will ensure that all those in the value chain in agriculture sector are involved.

The exchange’s establishment will help to deal with challenges facing the supply of agricultural produce, which in turn will deal with food inflation. It will as well provide a potent tool for a farmer to manage price fluctuations, stabilise his/her income and gain access to relatively cheaper credit.

There have been three failed attempts to establish a commodities exchange, due to the unavailability of a regulatory framework.

Ghana will be the fifth country in Africa after South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia to operate a commodities exchange that aims to embark on an aggressive overhaul of its agricultural sector.

Private enterprise operators have welcomed government’s decision to speedily establish the commodities exchange.

“Since Ghana’s economy is basically agricultural, it would make a lot of sense to see to the establishment of an effective commodity exchange that not only eliminates the regular post-harvest losses through buying of produce for storage, but also put money in the pockets of farmers in the short-term to facilitate their downstream operations,” Dr. Osei Boeh-Ocansey, former Director General of the Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) said.

Accra Brewery, Voltic present to NADMO

Accra Brewery Limited and Voltic Ghana Limited, both subsidiaries of SABMiller plc, have donated food items and bottled water valued at GH¢11,000 to the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).
The items, which include 51 bags of rice, beans and maize, and 50 cases of Voltic Mineral Water, was meant to assist the recent floods victims in the Eastern and Volta Regions.

Ms. Adjoba Kyiamah, Corporate/legal Affairs Manager of Accra Brewery Limited, making the presentation said: “Both companies were moved by the plight of the victims, particularly the story of a man who drowned because he decided to brave the water and go and get food for his family.”

She added: “Accra Brewery has been a caring member of Ghanaian society since 1931, and as it celebrates 80 years of existence it will continue to give back to the nation that has and continues to keep it in business.”

The Deputy National Coordinator of NADMO, Mr. Sylvester Azantilow, receiving the donation expressed gratitude to the two companies for their initiative.

This is a commendable step towards helping disaster victims in the country, especially in the wake of recent floods in the Eastern and Volta Regions which unfortunately resulted in the loss of lives.

“It is our responsibility to support those who survived, taking into consideration the fact that a lot of them have lost farmlands and livestock -- and in effect their livelihood. We are appealing to civil society and corporate bodies to take up the challenge,” said Mr. Azantilow.

The recent floods in the Eastern and Volta Regions, saw a large number of people being displaced, with over 10,000 coming from the Eastern Region alone.

International investors rank Ghana fourth

Ghana has been selected as the Fourth Best Investment Destination in 2011 in Africa by the international investor community, Ghana Investment Promotion (GIPC) CEO Mr. George Aboagye has disclosed.

The survey, released in late June 2011, was conducted by the Africa Business Panel that sampled 800 business professionals in all the 53 economies in Africa.

The Africa Business Panel is made up of persons who work in the private sector for companies registered in and operating out of Africa. They are the senior managers, entrepreneurs or professionals which form the backbone of the business community throughout Africa.

“International investors believe that Ghana’s economic and political climate persist in being stable -- citing Accra, the capital city, an attractive commercial centre to conduct business from with West Africa.

“The country’s oil discovery was also said be a factor to investment attraction. Ghana came behind South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya from first to third respectively, the survey said.

“Ghana has sold itself in terms of branding, with the footballers also doing a lot in promoting the image of the country. It is our belief that this is the effect of governmental measures being taken to grow the economy.” Mr. Aboagye disclosed this in Accra at a forum to announce the GIPC’s Second Quarter 2011 Investment Report which brought together investment experts, business executives.

“GIPC will continue to encourage both local and foreign investors and facilitate investment projects for development of the nation.

He indicated that GIPC will step-up its missions and campaigns, leveraging on the improved perception of the country as a safe investment destination and its democratic credentials.

“We undertake a lot of enquiries and promotions abroad to attract investors and Ghana has a solidified itself very well in terms of branding over the years.

Meanwhile, recent statistics such as the World Investment Report 2010 and the Doing Business 2011 Report as evidence of the progress made by governments to improve the legal structures as a complement to its investment promotion and protection efforts.

The World Investment Report 2010 ranked Ghana in the 8th to 15th country bracket for the highest FDI inflows in African countries in 2009 while the Doing Business 2011 Report, which compared business regulations in 183 economies, adjudged Ghana as the best place for doing business in West Africa and also 67th in the global log for countries with ease of doing business and 44th in the log of countries that protect investors.

Investment promoters have observed that the key investment-related legislation such as ACT 478, which set up the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and sector specific legislation intended to impact positively on the Ghanaian business community such as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act 2010, (ACT 798); foreign Exchange Act 2006, (ACT 723); and the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2008, (ACT 749) among others.

They stressed that as a measure of Ghana's commitment to creating a favourable investment climate for both nationals and foreign companies, the country has entered into 26 Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and eight Double Taxation Treaties (DDTs) as at May 2010 with countries such as the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Canada, Botswana and Iran.

Ghana has embarked on a reform of its intellectual property laws with a view to incorporating the obligations assumed under international treaties, among others, within domestic legal rules.

The Ghana Investment Fund Act (2002), Patents Act (2003) and the Copyright Act (2005) are among other evidence attracting FDI into the country.

Ghana is a signatory to the Convention establishing the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), and as a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has fulfilled all its obligations under the Trade Related 96 Aspect of Intellectual Property Agreement (TRIPs Agreement).

Newmont to change the face of farming in Ahafo

Newmont Ahafo Project has initiated a programme under the Ahafo Agro-Business Growth Initiative (AAGI) to help small-scale farmers in the eight communities within their project area to produce for local and international markets.

Under the project, the company has organised over 3,000 small-scale farmers into 196 Farmer Based Organisations (FBOs) and improved their capacity to be able to produce agricultural products to meet international market standards.

This was disclosed by Mr. Agbeko Kwame Azumah, Communication Manager of the Newmont Ahafo Mines, when he met with members of the Journalists for Business Advocates (JBA) who were on tour of the mines.

He said the main aim of the project is to help small-scale farmers in the beneficiary communities to improve upon their earnings and standard of living through improved production to meet international standards, and connecting them to both local and international markets.

Mr. Azumah said as at 2010, farmers engaged under the project were able to export 78,000 kilogrammes of plantain, 86,000 kilogrammes of chili pepper, 105 kilogrammes of ginger, and 14,000 kilogrammes of soya beans to markets in Europe.

The communities which have benefitted from the project include Kenyasi number one and two, Hwidiem, Wanahinso, Gyedu, Ntotroso, Nkaseim and Nkrankrom.

He said Newmont is working on the project in collaboration with the Asutifi District Assembly, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), and the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF).

Mr. Azumah said as part of the project EDIF is providing the project with 160,000 US dollars for the acquisition of irrigation equipment, processing equipment, and the construction of a processing and storage centre.

He said so far Newmont has invested one million US dollars into the project, and engaged the services of African Connection Ghana Limited to implement the project on its behalf.

Mr. Azumah explained that some of the challenges facing the project are difficulty in the farmers quickly adapting to the new ways of farming to meet the demands of the international community, and abandoning some of the crops they were used to producing and replace them with non-traditional export crops.

Netherlands, China top FDI sources

Netherlands topped the list of countries with the largest estimated value -- US$146.52 million --of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) into Ghana, with China being the leading source of investment projects (36) registered during the first half of the year, latest reports released by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) have revealed.

The performance was driven by significant inflows from the two countries in the second quarter of the year.

“With US$128.28 million as the estimated value of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), Netherlands topped the list of countries with the largest value of investments registered during the second quarter of 2011.

“China, with 23 projects, also topped the list of countries with the highest number of registered projects,” Mr. George Aboagye, Chief Executive Officer of GIPC, disclosed in Accra at a forum to announce the country’s half-year investment trend.

He stated that the total number of projects registered for the first half of 2011 was 236, with a total estimated value of US$978.74 million (GH¢1.47 billion). 213 projects were registered for the corresponding half of 2010 with a total estimated value of US$850.84 million (GH¢1.19 billion).

The total initial capital transfers amounted to US$165.93 million (GH¢248.90 million) for the period under review, while transfers in the corresponding half-year of 2010 amounted to GH¢42.50 million (US$30.36 million).

Of the 236 registered projects, 137 were wholly-owned foreign enterprises and 99 were joint ventures between Ghanaians and foreign partners.

The joint-venture projects were valued at US$635.96 million (GH¢953.94 million), and the wholly-owned foreign enterprises were valued at US$342.77 million (GH¢514.16 million).

The FDI component of the estimated value of projects registered during the first half of the year amounted to US$904.04 million (GH¢1.36 billion), and the local currency component amounted to US$74.68 million (GH¢112.03 million).

For the corresponding period in 2010, the FDI component of the estimated value of projects registered amounted to US$760.68 million (GH¢1.06 billion), and the local currency component amounted to US$90.16 million (GH¢126.23 million).

A total of 14,412 jobs are expected to be created by registered projects from the first half of 2011. 13,170 of the total jobs to be created will be for Ghanaians and the remaining 1,242 will be for expatriates.

The 2nd quarter performance was generally better than the 1st. For the 2nd quarter of this year, 127 new projects were registered. The total initial capital transfers for the newly registered projects amounted to US$97.03 million (GH¢145.55 million). The total estimated value of this quarter’s newly registered projects was US$600.30 million (GH¢900.45 million).

The total foreign equity was US$296.68 million (GH¢445.02 million), and the initial equity transfer was US$97.03 million (GH¢145.55 million).

The FDI component of the estimated value of the projects registered during the period under review (1st April to 30th June 2011) was GH¢828.44 million (US$552.29 million), representing 92% of the total estimated value, and a local currency component of GH¢72.01 million (US$48.00 million), representing 8%.

This compares better to the FDI component of projects registered in the first quarter of 2011, which was valued at US$351.75 million (GH¢527.63 million), with a local currency component of US$26.68 million (GH¢40.02 million).

During the first quarter of 2011, 66 wholly-owned foreign enterprises and 43 joint ventures were registered and valued at US$116.71 million (GH¢175.07 million) and US$261.72 million (GH¢392.58 million) respectively.

Solid Express supports deprived Children

Solid Express Ghana Limited, an imports and exports firm, has donated items valued at GH¢12,500 to the Osu Children’s Home in Accra.

The donation, which is one of the largest received by the Home since its establishment, included a deep-freezer, gas cooker, gallons of cooking oil, bags of rice and wheat, crates of canned drink, packs of sugar and milk, confectionaries, detergents, disinfectant, diapers, bags of sachet-water, school-bags and learning aids.

Youssef Chahine, Director of the company, presenting the items said the company considered it important to initiate the social responsibility project because companies have a sacred responsibility to take care of society.

He explained that the donation was targetted at helping the company provide support to orphanages and other institutions across the country, which is the firm’s way of contributing to improvement in the welfare of the underprivileged in society.

The company, he said, is mindful of the challenges involved in taking care of a large number of orphans and less-privileged children, and hopes the donation will assist management of the Home to address the children’s needs.

Mrs. Sharon Abbey, Director of the Osu Children’s Home, thanked the company for the gesture which she described as very timely because the Home was running out of stock.
She promised that the items will be put to good use and urged other corporate bodies to emulate the gesture.

Local miners ready for gold price peak

On the back of current gold prices, Ghanaian miners are investing heavily to jack up production at their existing operations.

AngloGold Ashanti, the oldest company which operates two mines at Obuasi and Iduapriem in Tarkwa Nsuem area has already invested $800 million in the past seven years to modernise and expand its Obuasi operation, which is by far the biggest in terms of reserves and employment.

Peter Anderton, the newly appointed Senior Vice President responsible for Ghana operations, disclosed that the company will be spending more this year to improve infrastructure and development.

Production currently is at $317,000 but the mine has the capacity to do more in future, Peter Anderton told the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources at his recent courtesy call at his office.

AngloGold Ashanti is here to stay and it is looking at the long recovery of the operation of Obuasi, he said.

Newmont, which is currently the second largest gold producer in terms of ounces, is poised to hit the ground with a big bang in three years time as the number one gold producer, producing at 1.2 million ounces. It has started its underground operation at Ahafo and is constructing an over $850 million mine at Akyim.

The good news is that its current 4000 labour force could double, which in turn would mop up thousands of Ghanaians wandering as unemployed.

Edwin Allotey Acquaye, Tax Director, Newmont Ghana, told B&FT in an interview in Accra that the production outlook for the next six month, looks positive as the rise in global gold prices continues. “Its revenue implication for Newmont and the country is huge,” he said.

Goldfields, which operates and owns Demang and Tarkwa, is also looking at one million plus ounces of gold in the future from 930,000 ounces. It also employs thousands of Ghanaians, and currently prides itself as production and cost leader in Ghana.

It is expanding its operations at both mines to sustain and increase production to consolidate its prestigious position. This could also mean more direct and indirect jobs.

In their own small way Chirano Kinross Mine, Golden Star Resources, Adamus, Owere, Keegan Resources, just to mention a few second tier producers, are all gearing up to take advantage of the gold rally.

The government, which has 10% carried interest in these companies is also raking increased revenue in the form of corporate tax, royalties and dividends, with some companies paying between 3% minimum and 5% maximum dividends.

It recently made $209 million (net) from the sale of part of its interest in AngloGold Ashanti and could even make more now that share prices are on the upward swing, from its free carried interests in other mining companies to support the Better Ghana Agenda. As a major foreign exchange earner, Chamber of Mines sources say not less than 60% of what the mining companies earn are repatriated to the country.

A gold price rally also means increased spending on social and community development by the mining companies. The mining companies are already spending millions of dollars annually to support local economies, especially in the areas of access to modern medical care, agriculture, employment, feeder roads construction and others. This has improved lives in the communities.

The AngloGold Ashanti malaria programme, for instance, has literally saved thousands of lives as malaria cases were reported to have been reduced by 75% in the Obuasi municipality.

The company is also reported to be holding itself in readiness to launch a major programme with Global Fund in 40 districts. Goldfields sponsorship of Ghana Black Stars, Newmont’s agriculture improvement schemes and many others have all benefitted the country.

Gold price trends

Spot gold hit an all-time high last week, for the sixth time in two weeks, as worries grew whether the embattled United States could avert a debt default while its two key political parties were belligerently and uncompromisingly locked in stalemated talks to raise its debt ceiling.

Spot gold rose as high as $1, 625.24, before easing to $1, 624.19 last week. It was up in 16 of this last's 19 trading sessions so far. US gold also hit an all-time high at $1, 625.8.

However, spot gold dropped for the first time in three days after the House of Representatives passed the measure to raise the U.S. debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion and cut federal spending by $2.4 trillion or more.

“Increasing the debt ceiling is not going to make the debt go away, while the debt problems in Europe aren’t going to be resolved overnight, and we’re seeing all these getting reflected in the weaker economic numbers,” said Zhang Yingying, an analyst at Galaxy Futures Co., a brokerage that’s 16.7 percent owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.

Gold for December delivery in New York rose 0.3 percent to $1,626 an ounce, after futures reached a record $1,637.50 on July 29. Spot silver gained 1 percent to $39.6825 an ounce.

Dealers reported muted reaction on Asia's physical market to gold's rally, as buyers and sellers alike cautiously watch the outcome of the US debt talks.

30 companies go bust in 10 years

Thirty large-scale companies were liquidated between the period 2000 and 2010, B&FT has learnt.

Among these companies were Black Star Line, Gateway Broadcast Services, Ghana Corporative Bank, Prestea Gold Resources, Bank for Housing and Construction, Plant Pool and Ghana Airways.

They underwent liquidation due to huge financial burdens, lack of proper corporate governance, and lack of appropriate succession plans among others.

Abdallah Ali-Nakyea, the Managing Consultant of WTS Nakyea & Adebiyi, a firm of Tax Attorneys & Solicitors in Accra, in an interview with B&FT said: “In order to facilitate a culture of corporate rescue in Ghana, specific rules for tax-free reorganisation have to be made in the tax laws.”

Concerns have been raised by business promoters and think-tanks on the need to ensure that gaps in the Ghanaian law on corporate insolvency are filled with appropriately responsive legislation as soon as possible.

Last year, the Registrar-General’s Department recorded a total of 25,000 business names, 227 partnerships and 93 external companies. 14,000 limited liability companies were also recorded with 335 subsidiary business names also registered.

Mr. Ali-Nakyea explained that the objective of rules for tax-free reorganidation would not be to grant a tax exemption to the companies or shareholders involved, but rather to “neutralise’, as it were, the tax consequences of the business reorganisation so that it involves neither a tax advantage nor a tax disadvantage.

“To ensure a win-win situation, therefore, conditions need to be set for a tax-free
reorganisation which should be continuity of business enterprise and continuity of shareholder interest.

“The degree of continuity is what needs to be agreed: for example, is the 25% in section 101 (1) (b) of Act 592 too high or adequate?”

He indicated that a corporate reorganisation often requires a formal capital contribution. There is therefore need to exempt reorganisations from stamp-duty on capital contribution.

“Corporate rescue comes in various forms including corporate restructuring or reorganisation, which refers to partially dismantling or otherwise rearranging a company to make it more profitable.

“As tax is one of the key costs to doing business, it is critical that the tax implications of any restructuring are known before it is undertaken. It is thus important that in designing tax-laws, attention must be given by drafters to provisions for corporate reorganisation.

“It is refreshing to note that there are provisions in the Internal Revenue Act, 2000 (Act 592) that support corporate rescue. At the same time, the Act contains provisions that are inimical to corporate rescue, and these are the provisions that need fine-tuning.

“Some of such rules are scattered in Internal Revenue Act, 2000 (Act 592), albeit not specifically made for purposes of corporate rescue; so can we have a part in the Act dealing exclusively with corporate rescue,” Mr. Ali-Nakyea stated.

Vodafone launches ‘More Money’ game

Vodafone Ghana has launched a new SMS Money Game, which will allow subscribers to win various sums of money up to GH¢100,000.

The SMS game, targetted at all Vodafone pre-paid customers, is driven by customers sending text messages to a premium short code with the goal of being the one millionth texter to win grand prizes ranging from GH¢10,000 to GH¢100,000.

Customers also stand a chance of winning other prizes at various points: every 100th, 1,000th, 10,000th and 100,000th texter will win prizes in the form of airtime or cash. In all, Vodafone will give away GH¢1.75million in cash and airtime.

“With the launch of the ‘More Money’ game, Vodafone customers have the opportunity to win cash and airtime prizes as many times as possible. There are ten rounds in the whole game, and each round runs from the first text to the millionth text.

A new round will automatically start as soon as the text counter hits one million.

“To participate, Vodafone customers can text ‘more’ to short code 777 as many times as required to a prize-point and win a prize. Participating customers will receive an informational text detailing the text number position and the location of the next prize point,” Carmen Bruce-Annan, Head of Corporate Communications said at the official launch of the game in Accra.

She added: “The ultimate grand prize is arguably one of the biggest cash prizes ever offered in Ghana. This is a clear indication of our strong commitment and dedication to rewarding our customers who have undoubtedly played an integral role in our success story.

We are at the forefront of customer reward initiatives, having set the standard by offering an exclusive home at Trasacco Valley about two years ago.
“For this particular promotion, we will be rewarding thousands of customers with a total of GH¢1.75m in cash and airtime. I think this initiative speaks for itself.

“All winners of the ‘More Money’ game will receive confirmational text messages declaring them as winners.

Airtime prizes will be credited to the customer’s bonus account within 24 hours after the confirmation text has been received. Winners of cash prizes will also be contacted via a confirmation text detailing the cash prize and prize award date.

Regarding prizes for the various prize-points, every 100th texter will receive GH¢5 to use on network calls. Every 1,000th texter will receive GH¢10 credit to use for on-network calls, and every 10,000th texter will receive a GH¢500 cash prize.

Also, every 100,000th texter will receive a GH¢1,000 cash prize and the millionth texter in the first round will receive GH¢10, 000.

All prizes will remain fixed throughout the ten rounds except the prizes allocated to the millionth texter.

The millionth texter will receive GH¢10,000 in the first round; in the second round, the millionth texter will receive GH¢20,000.

The million texter prize will keep increasing by GH¢10,000 with each round until the tenth and final round when the winner receives a grand prize of GH¢100,000.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dying businesses need protection

The gap in Ghanaian law on corporate insolvency should be filled with appropriately responsive legislation as soon as possible, Professor S.K. Date-Bah, Justice of the Supreme Court, has proposed.

“The formulation and enactment of such legislation would be an important step in nurturing a culture of corporate restructuring in Ghana. Particularly in a developing economy such as Ghana, an effort should be made to prolong the life of enterprises that have successfully been established [to save them] from premature demise,” he said.

Prof. Date-Bah made this proposal in Accra at a forum organised by the Ghana Association of Restructuring and Insolvency Advisors (GARIA) in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoppers (pwc) Ghana Limited.

Among other objectives, the forum was to highlight and propose solutions to those gaps and educate key stakeholders on the need to facilitate a rescue for dying businesses in the country.

Prof. Date-Bah observed: “Liquidations are part of the process of adjustment wrought by market forces. What I am saying, however, is that there is justification for a degree of state intervention through corporate insolvency legislation to delay the demise of a failing company -- where a restructuring has a chance of restoring it to good health.

“In building a culture conducive to corporate restructuring in Ghana, the stakeholders in the restructuring process will need to be won over.

“The cooperation of creditors will be particularly important. Creditors need to be persuaded that efficient corporate rehabilitation will often yield better results for creditors than the results from the winding up of the distressed company.”

He explained that when a company is distressed, it is unable to pay its debts as they fall due -- or it is close to this situation -- adding that the first response of the law should not be to enable forthwith its liquidation to pay for the debts of its creditors.

“That is too drastic a remedy which is not responsive to the inevitable ups and downs of business life. A legal system that provides principally for only liquidation can fairly be characterised as primitive, from the business point of view,” he said.

Speaking on financing arrangements in restructuring, Wyczynsky Ashiagbor, Director, PricewaterhouseCoppers, explained that a company’s turnaround requires a greater amount of finance than would be the case in financing for a going concern.

“The main reasons for the turnaround are as follows: the business' sales performance may be negatively affected during a restructuring process as management's attention is diverted, or trade suppliers are often only willing to supply goods and services on a cash basis.”

He again cited cost and willingness of lenders to provide new debt as the major challenge of post- restructuring financing.

“[In the] Ghana Airways/Ghana International Airline example, our laws do not provide for ‘superior’ status for paying back debt during distress/restructuring situations,” he explained.

GARIA is an association of practitioners and persons who have an interest in restructuring and insolvency. The association was formed to play a leadership role in corporate restructuring, business recovery and insolvency in the country.

Chrysler, Dodge Caliber showcased

PHC Motors held its annual exhibition aimed at showcasing two brands of luxury cars to the general public.

The one month exhibition held at the Accra Shopping Mall, was to afford patrons and the PHC officials to interact and know at first hand, the problems and concerns of Chrysler and Dodge Caliber cars users and also to explained the efficiency and usefulness of its flagship products.

The event attracted patrons from corporate Ghana, including garages and individual users, also focused on educating users on a wide range of issues regarding vehicle sales, after sales activities, credit control, and the effects of the influx of counterfeit spare parts on the automobile market.

PHC Motors is the authorized dealers in Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Land Rover, BMG and Tata vehicles in the country’s automobile market.

Chrysler 300C

The all new luxurious 2.7 liter Chrysler 300C is classically designed as a master piece for successful elite and personalities to reinforce their prestige and comfort.

It has being designed with creative versatile interior style and has become a synonym for excellence.

The Chrysler 300C specifically manufactured stands out on any road with its wide stance and stand-tall architecture. It has also been manufactured with modern technology that enhances it to effect smooth take-off and response to acceleration with high performance.

PHC Motors says, the it is specifically made targeting the comfort of successful individuals in the society including the chief executive officers, senior public officials, successful entrepreneurs, and business owners depicting a symbol of prestigious life style, Norman Dunkerley, Divisional Manager-Luxury Brand ,PHC Motors Limited told B&FT in Accra.

Anthony Torsu, Deputy Sales Manger, outlining the vehicles unique safety systems said: “No one wants to test a vehicle’s impact resistance, but Chrysler 300c is ready, if it occurs, with Unibody safety cage construction with front crumple zones built into the stiff body cage to absorb impact energy.”

Dodge Caliber

Dodge Caliber has been manufactured with bold looks and exceptional fuel efficient with wheels that feature a five-hole pattern and a 114.3 mm bolt circle.

“Every corner of Caliber makes a statement. The fact that every single piece of fascia is body-coloured says something,” PHC Motors said.

The Caliber has a five-door hatchback body, but because of its bulkier appearance, can also be considered both a station wagon or a crossover.

The Caliber concept features styling elements derivative of larger Dodge vehicles, such as a crosshair grille, rough border angles and flared fenders.

The Dodge Caliber offers a continuously variable transmission (dubbed CVT2 by Dodge) and uses a four-cylinder 1.8-2.4 L GEMA gasoline engine, designed jointly by Chrysler, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai.

The car also features an optional electronically-controlled all-wheel drive system with variable torque at speeds of 25 to 65 mph (40 to 105 km/h) for optimal handling.
The Dodge Caliber is a compact car produced by the Dodge division of Chrysler. It replaced the Neon, and went on sale in the spring of 2006 as a 2007 model year vehicle.

After Chrysler began a strategic alliance with Fiat Motors in early 2010, the company announced that the Caliber will be replaced by a second generation starting 2012.

The next generation of the Caliber is planned to feature a nine-speed automatic transmission starting 2013.

Currently, it remains the smallest and the least expensive vehicle of the whole brand which sells well in the United States and Canada, despite poor quality/value ratio on foreign markets.

The Caliber is an important vehicle for Chrysler in its quest to expand globally. The Caliber was one of Dodge's first modern offerings in Europe. Dodge also introduced the Caliber as part of its launch lineup in Asian markets such as Japan and Singapore, as it established new distribution channels there.

Producer inflation drops, but business less optimistic

Year-on-year inflation from the producer’s perspective for June 2011 was 12.15%, a drop by 11.05 percentage points relative to the May figure of 23.20 %, the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has announced.

The substantial drop owed to the tapering off of the year-on-year effect of the June 2010 hikes in utility prices on the producer price index (PPI). Utility price inflation, which accounts for 16 percent of the index, was down to 0.27% year-on-year, from 71.84% in May.

In June last year, the cost of water and electricity for industries was increased by as much as 200 percent, following demands by service providers for price-adjustments.

Meanwhile, a June survey by the Bank of Ghana revealed business optimism was down compared to two months before. The Bank said its business confidence index dropped to 104.1 in June from 106.6 in April.

Firms surveyed were less optimistic about the level and intensity of their capital expenditures. They also expected lower levels of sales, profits and employment opportunities.

Data show credit growth to enterprises remains weak compared with trends observed a year earlier, though it’s been witnessing a gradual pick-up.

A dip in the confidence indicator for consumers may also explain firms’ low expectations regarding future sales and profits.

Overall consumer confidence declined from 100.7 in April to 99.5 in June, driven by weaker welfare expectations, according to the Central Bank.

“While the overall medium-term outlook for growth remains positive, the soft spots lie in the downbeat sentiments of consumers and businesses,” the Bank said.

It warned the headwinds from the low confidence of consumers and businesses could weigh down growth, and therefore requires some policy attention.
Producer inflation analysis.

“The June 2011 producer inflation rate, which represents the lowest rate in 12 months, recorded a sharp decline which is attributed to the drop in the rate for the utility sector. For the past 12 months, the utility sector persistently recorded the highest producer inflation of about 70 percent.

“During the 12-month period, the all industry [index] recorded [its] highest producer inflation rate in April 2011. From June 2010, the rate was quite stable, until November 2010 when it declined,” explained Dr. Grace Bediako, Government Statistician, at a media conference to announce the current Producer Price Inflation (PPI) data.

Mining and quarrying costs rose 30.2 percent, compared with 32.6 percent in May while manufacturing, which comprises 70 percent of the index, rose 11.8 percent in June from 12.1 percent a month earlier, Dr. Bediako said.

She explained that nine out of the 16 major groups in the manufacturing sector recorded inflation rates higher than the manufacturing sector average of 12.10 percent. Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers recorded the highest inflation rate of 28.87 percent, while manufacture of fabricated metal recorded a negative change in the rate by 2.33 percent.

Inflation in the petroleum industry has remained stable, recording 27.33% in June 2011, after it jumped in January 2011. The rate had stabilised for the first two months of 2010, but dropped between March and June 2010. It declined again in November 2010 after increasing slightly in October 2010.

Golden Star Resources pays US$22.8m in royalties, taxes

Golden Star Resources Limited, operator of the Bogoso/Prestea and Wassa mines in the Western Region, has paid a total of US$22,893,410 to the government in royalty and various other payments for the first half of this year.

Royalty payments from the two mines totalled US$6,577,401 with the Wassa mine paying US$4,167,880.00, and the Bogoso/Prestea mine a total of US$2,409,521.

The Wassa Mine made another payment of US$2,874,174 as its obligation in respect of the national stabilisation levy.

The other payments made to the government included contributions to SSNIT, VAT, import duties, and withholding and pay as you earn (PAYE) taxes and permits. For these obligations Bogoso/Prestea alone paid a total of US$6,074,621. The Wassa Mine’s contribution to meet its obligations amounted to US$6,321,895.

Mr. Daniel Owiredu, Vice-President, Operations, said: “Once again we are delighted to report that we met our obligations with considerable promptitude. I must stress however that these payments continue to represent the collective efforts of management, employees and the communities -- and we are very hopeful that this trend will continue.”

The company has invested over US$850 million into the country’s economy during the past 10 years, and the impacts of this investment have been dramatic, Tom Mair, President and Chief Executive Officer of Golden Star Resources Limited, disclosed to B&FT in Accra recently.

Golden Star Resources Limited during the 2010 production year earmarked approximately US$70 million for its exploration and sustainable development projects in the country.

More than US$16 million of this investment was to be directed to new exploration projects in the Western Region, with the remainingUS$54 million put into development and sustainable capital investment for its operations in the existing mining areas.

Newmont embarks on community service

Employees of Newmont Ahafo Mine’s Finance and IT departments embarked on a community service in Kenyasi No. 1 Primary and Junior High School.

Dubbed “Day of Caring,” the event was organized in collaboration with United Way Ghana, a not for profit organization as part of the mining company’s social responsibility commitments. Newmont Ghana supported the day’s activities with about GHc 5,000 and over 320 employee man-hours.

Newmont Ghana employees spent the day; cleaning, scrubbing, painting classrooms and erecting a new sign board to replace the old one which had broken down.

They donated a new set of jerseys and footballs and also engaged in an exhibition match with the school team. The employees, out of their individual contributions, also donated a new table tennis set to the school.

Arvind Mehta, Finance Controller of Newmont Ghana’s AhafoMine in a speech said: “The value of making the lives of others better underpins how Newmont does business in its communities”.

“For us at Newmont, giving, whether it is sharing our time or giving to support good causes, we don’t just view the gesture as a feel-good venture, but our action is informed by the value that underpins the way we do our business: demonstrating leadership in stewardship of the environment and social responsibility,” said Yaw Antwi-Dadzie, External Affairs Manager, Newmont Ghana’s Regional Office in Accra.

The President of United Way Ghana, Dr. Juliette Tuakliwas very happy that after several years of deliberations on the possibility of organizing a Day of Caring event in Ahafo communities, the programme had finally taken place.

Newmont Ghana has been a partner of United Way since its inception in Ghana for the past six years and they have, ever since, participated each year in the Day of Caring Programme through their Regional Office in Accra.

Newmont’s Ahafo Mine, through the Finance and IT departments, took their turn to share love and care in their community.

The company has through United Way’s Day of Caring Programs supported; Kantamanto Street Girls Aid Project (2006), ManyaKrobo Queen Mothers Association (2007&2008), Akropong School for the Blind (2009&2010) and the Accra Psychiatric Hospital (2011); and financed various projects in these areas with about GH¢30,000.

Newmont Ghana was the first company in Ghana to also sign up for United Way’s special and unique Workplace Giving Programme.

Over the past two years about 350 of its employees have through this programme voluntarily contributed about GH¢40,000 which the company has matched cedi for cedi to total about GH¢80,000 and given in support of specific charities chosen by the employees.

Some of the charities supported thus far include Street Girls Aid Project (Kantamanto), ManyaKrobo Queen Mothers Association; Akropong School for the Blind, Compassion is Love in Action (Sunyani), and Big Step Foundation,New Abirem, Eastern Region.