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As this year is a major election year, everything has taken on political colours, the Board Chair of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), Elizabeth Ohene, has said.

Regarding the sale of the hotels belonging to SSNIT to Agric Minister Bryan Acheampong, she said that the issue has generated intense pressure because Bryan Acheampong is a politician.

In an article, Madam Elizabeth Ohene said, “I accept that this being an election year, everything takes on a political colouration and Bryan Acheampong being the owner of Rock City is obviously the main reason the decibel level of the discussions has gone so high.”

“By all means”, she added “let us have a discussion about a company belonging to a Minister of State winning an open, competitive bid, no matter how fairly; but surely that is a different argument from whether SSNIT can, or is allowed to find private sector investment for its hotels and any of its other wholly or majority-owned investments.”

She further indicated that the suggestion that the move to sell the hotels was shrouded in secrecy baffled her because an advert to that effect was placed in the state-owned Daily Graphic.

“Quite a number of things baffle me, but I will mention two: the suggestion that this was some secret thing being done that has been discovered and the sordid details are being exposed by a Member of Parliament and secondly, the suggestion that the President of the Republic, and by extension, the government took the decision and was in some way, in charge of the divestiture process of the shares in the hotels owned by SSNIT.

“If you want to do something in secret, it would be very strange to announce your intentions with advertisements in the Daily Graphic, the Ghanaian Times and the Economist. And yet, that is exactly what SSNIT did when its Board of Trustees took the decision to seek a strategic investor to take a 60 per cent stake in the six hotels it owns.

“The advertisements were followed by various public statements by SSNIT executives at various stages, once the process got going. Indeed, the last two times that SSNIT appeared before the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, the subject of trying to find a strategic investor in the hotels came up and SSNIT was urged to hurry with the process and conclude what it was doing,” she said.

North Tongu lawmaker Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has criticized the move to sell the hotels to Agric Minister Bryan Acheampong after stating that Bryan’s Rock  City Hotels made losses thereby making him unfit to acquire the SSNIT hotels.

But Bryan Acheampong openly dared Ablakwa to substantiate claims regarding his Rock City Hotel’s financial status. Bryan went ahead to say that if Ablakwa is able to substantiate the claims he would gift him his properties in East Legon and some of hotels.

This followed allegations by Ablakwa that documents intercepted from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) indicate that Rock City Hotel Limited, a company owned by the Agric Minister and MP for Abetifi, is running at a loss and hence unfit to buy the lucrative and profit-making SSNIT hotels.

Acheampong categorically denied these assertions, dismissing them as baseless and without merit. “I heard Okudzeto making allegations of intercepting some documents from GRA but he has no such documents, there is nothing true in that statement, they are all lies,” Acheampong told host of Yen Nsempa, Nana Yaa Brefo on June 19.

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The Minister further elaborated, stating that according to information he received from the hotel’s management, Rock City Hotel has yet to file its taxes for the year 2023 and for that reason not even GRA knows the financial status of the company to say it is operating at a loss.

“Managers of Rock City have reported to me that they haven’t filed their 2023 taxes; they will be filed by the end of June. So, they haven’t been filed yet. Where did Okudzeto get the supposed documents, he’s talking about from GRA, because the Managers of Rock City haven’t filed them yet, where did he get the said documents from?” Acheampong questioned.

But Ablakwa has told him that he does not need any of his properties after stating that he does not perform his oversight role for personal gains or gifts.

“I don’t need any of those things, I am not doing what I am doing for personal gains and gifts…I have always maintained that public officials should stay away from public properties,” he said on the Key Points on TV3 Saturday, June 22.