President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has given an assurance that the government will work to revive the fortunes of the Ghana Consolidated Diamonds Limited (GCDL).
“In times past, the company helped create jobs and wealth for the people of Akwatia. Therefore, if today there are some lingering issues concerning the operations of the mine, then it is my utmost responsibility to ensure that such bottlenecks are all cleared to get the mine functioning again. That is why I am here today," he said.Addressing a durbar in his honour in Akwatia as part of his tour of the Eastern Region last Sunday, the President said the government had already restored electricity to the company, after it was disconnected from the national grid for about three years for non-payment of bills.
Last month, the government abrogated the contract awarded to the GCDL, a subsidiary of the Jospong Group of Companies, to mine diamond in Akwatia, for breach of contract.
The company, according to the Director-General of the State Interests and Governance Authority (SIGA), Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, failed to fulfil its core mandate of paying $17 million to the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC), as well as rehabilitating and refurbishing facilities at the mines to enhance production.
President Akufo-Addo assured the Chief of Akwatia, Osabarima Kofi Boateng III, that a solution would be found soon to resolve the current situation confronting the company.
“So I am giving you the strongest assurance that this matter is of grave concern to me, and I will ensure that whatever has to be done to restore the mine to its former status will be done," he added.Touching on the company’s properties, the President said the Director-General of SIGA had already made some effort with regard to a property in London.
“We still own the property; we have not lost it to anyone. They (SIGA) have been able to identify it and it is still a property of the company. It is the one in Accra that, I believe, has become the subject of some litigation, but we will look into it and seek redress.
“It may probably be that the lease on the property has not been renewed, hence its current situation, but as I have said, we will look into it critically and get back to you with the results,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo expressed appreciation to the chiefs and the people of Akwatia for embracing an oil palm project being undertaken by the ministries of Food and Agriculture and Local Government and Rural Development.
He said the government was also giving support for the cultivation of cashew, mango, rubber and shea.
“We cannot base the growth and development of our country on just a single produce, cocoa. We need to diversify, and we are looking at other non-traditional exports. Cote d’Ivoire gets $16 billion every year from agricultural exports. We in Ghana get only $2 billion. That is not good enough.
“So in three or four years, the investments we have made in these cash crops will certainly get us about $12 to $15 billion receipts of diversified agricultural exports. I am, therefore, happy that the project here has the full support of Nananom," he said.
To ensure the proper regulation of the crops, he said “before the end of this year, the Tree Crop Authority Bill laid in Parliament will be passed to ensure proper regulation of these crops, as has been done with the COCOBOD to enable farmers to reap the full benefits of their labour”.
The President further assured the people of Akwatia of their share of the national cake.
He also addressed durbars at Akyem Wenchi and Akyem Kusi.
The Minister of Roads and Highways, Mr Kwasi Amoako-Atta, said some roads, including bridges, in the area were being improved upon.
He called on the people to be patient, as the government worked to fix bad roads in the country.
That was in response to an earlier appeal by Osabarima Boateng to the government to work on deplorable roads in Akwatia and surrounding communities.