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Monday, December 21, 2009

Mills’ man flouts orders

President Mills vowed to fight corruption vigorously
President Mills vowed to fight corruption vigorously
The Forestry Commission (FC), one of the prominent wheels of the Ghanaian economy which has of late become the center-stage of political anachronism in the Atta Mills Administration, is set to become another theatre of embarrassment to the 12-month old government.

This follows the flouting of the President’s orders, which gave John Owusu Amankwa, Managing Director of JOWAK Sawmills Limited, one week to settle his company’s indebtedness to the commission and also withdraw a legal battle he was engrossed in with the Commission.

According to the President, Mr Amankwa, who is known generally as the President’s Pal, would lose his position as Board Member of the commission if he flouted the directive, but Daily Guide has learnt that the presidential order is not biting after all, as it seems to have been thrown to the dogs.

Not only has the JOWAK boss refused to pay up the ¢26.4 billion (GH¢2,637,190.83) he was said to be owing the state, he is still at post as Board Member, four long weeks after the deadline had expired.

The development has set tongues wagging at the Commission, bringing to the fore, long-standing suspicions of political maneuvering at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and again casting doubts about President Mills’ seriousness in enforcing financial discipline and putting the economy on track.

News is also rife within the Commission that Mr Amankwa is still at post while several genuine timber operators, suspected of not belonging to the ruling NDC, are being prevented from entering their concessions, with the explanation that they are being investigated.

The affected companies have paid their money to the Commission but still cannot enter their concessions.

The President, on 23rd November, 2009, gave Amankwa a one-week ultimatum to ‘behave’ or get sanctioned, which includes his removal as member of the Board of Directors.

The letter, signed by the Secretary to the President, J.K. Bebaako-Mensah, under the caption ‘Indebtedness to the President, stated: “This office’s attention has been drawn to the fact that JOWAK Sawmills Limited, of which you are the Managing Director, is indebted to the Forestry Commission in the sum of (GH¢2,637,190.83).

It has further been revealed that your company has a pending suit at the Accra fast Track High Court against the Forestry Commission.

“I have been directed by H.E. the President to request you to make good the amount owed to the Commission, and withdraw the case from court within a week from the date of this letter, or resign your membership from the Board of the Commission.”

According to the Presidential directive, “This decision has been taken because it is considered that your continued membership of the Board, whilst you are indebted to the Commission, will seriously compromise the integrity of the Board and will also amount to a conflict of interest.”

Before the President wrote to him, Daily Guide gathered that the CEO of the Commission had written to Mr Amankwa as far back as September 2, 2007, asking him to settle his debts or face the consequences.

Source: Daily Guide/Ghana

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