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Don’t play ‘chaskele’ with pension funds; stop sale of hotels to Bryan Acheampong – TUC warns

Source The Ghana Report

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has issued a stern warning to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to halt the reported sale of 60% of its stake in four hotels to MP and Minister for Agriculture Bryan Acheampong’s Rock City Hotel.

According to union, these properties were for the citizens, and SSNIT was only managing them; therefore, they would not allow SSNIT to sell them to just anyone, especially a minister of State.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, May 20, the Head of Civil and Local Government Staff Association, Ghana (CLOGSAG), Dr Isaac Bampoe Addo, said SSNIT has violated various investment guidelines, and the union will not relent in efforts to halt the process.

“We want government to know that these funds are not government funds. These funds are pension funds and pensions are guided by Act 766. We have investment guidelines under Act 766 and clearly, these guidelines have not been followed.

“Government should be aware that we will not allow them to play ‘chaskele’ with our funds. Should they dare go ahead, it will be the mother of all strikes in Ghana,” he said.

Secretary-General of TUC, Dr Yaw Baah, also questioned how SSNIT’s stake in the six hotels would be packaged and sold, as if they were all in financial distress.

“We find it extremely difficult to understand why SSNIT’s interest in six hotels will be packaged and sold as if all the hotels are in the same financial position,”he said.

“We find it difficult to understand why the original proposal of the sale of SSNIT’s interest in six hotels has reduced to four. We hold the view that this renders the whole process null and void. We have observed that the proposed the payment terms have varied from the original MoU [Memorandum of Understanding] based on the recommendations,” he added.

Dr Baah added that the TUC could not understand why the share should be sold to a politician, Mr Acheampong.

“We also find it difficult to understand why SSNIT’s interest in these hotels should be sold to a company owned by a Minister of State. We do not think this is right,” he added.

As such, Dr Baah said the union is demanding that the sale of SSNIT’s stake be cancelled immediately.

“We are calling on the Minister responsible for pensions to direct the board of trustees of SSNIT to cancel the process immediately otherwise, else we organised labour will advice ourselves.

TUC Secretary-General, Dr Yaw Baah said they had initially raised opposition to the deal, but it appears the Trust is bent on going ahead.

“We have asked them to halt it earlier. But from all indications, they are rather speeding up the process. We don’t think state properties should be sold to a minister. This smacks of state capture. If the Employment Minister fails to stop the process, we workers will stop the process” he warned.

The sale came to light after the National Democratic Congress MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa raised an alarm about it.

The MP has since petitioned the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) calling for an investigation into various allegations, including conflict of interest, abuse of power, lack of due process, procurement breaches, cronyism, and graft.

In his petition, Mr Ablakwa highlights what he views as violations of constitutional provisions, specifically citing Articles 78(3) and 98(2) of the 1992 Constitution. He contends that these actions represent significant breaches of legal and ethical standards.

But the SSNIT has explained that Rock City Hotel Limited submitted the best and strongest technical and financial proposal among the bids received, meeting the criteria set out in the Request for Proposals (RFP). It said the selection process was transparent and strictly adhered to the Public Procurement Act.

The Trust emphasised that there was no favoritism involved in selecting Rock City Hotel Limited. SSNIT explained that the decision to partner with an investor was initiated to raise capital for further investments in their hotels and to enhance their management.

Mr Ablakwa has criticised SSNIT’s explanation, and the TUC also says it disagrees with the explanation.

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