The Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana (OPDAG) has called on the government to immediately reconsider its decision to indefinitely suspend the implementation of the review of the 50 per cent benchmark reduction policy.
OPDAG, which is a representation of the entire palm oil value chain actors in Ghana, believed that if their call for suspension was not heeded to then the source of livelihood of over 24,000 persons who depend on the productivity of the entire value chain of the sector for their livelihood would be lost.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, a day after government announced an indefinite suspension of the review of the benchmark reduction policy, the Executive Secretary of OPDAG, Mr Selorm Quame, said they find the indication of the government for more stakeholder engagement very worrying because for the past two years, the government had been engaging with all relevant stakeholders consistently.
“We are baffled by what the objective of a future call for stakeholder engagement is and why an indefinite suspension of the implementation of the review at this time. We have made our case on numerous occasions over the past two years to the President, the Economic Management Team, all the relevant government agencies such as the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Finance, the Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC) among others but unfortunately the status quo has remained, “he said.
He said it was rather unfortunate that while the government invests so much resources into the promotion of the ideals of industralisation of the Ghanaian economy, the government implements such a counterproductive policy such as the 50 per cent benchmark reduction policy.
Mr Quame noted that since the introduction of the policy their plea and advice to the government had always been the exemption of oil palm products from the policy because local processing capacity outweighs local demand by 100 per cent, a situation that offered Ghana the opportunity to produce oil palm products for export to earn foreign exchange.
“Initiatives such as Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) are all that which will not thrive under this strategy that subsidises imports while maintaining stiffer conditions under which local industry must operate of which the oil pal sector of Ghana is not an exception, ” he said.
He said the threats and false claims of the importers that consumers would face astronomical price increases after the new review of the policy were false.
“Prices of goods we manufacture in Ghana will not see such prices as has been portrayed by the PR machinery of the importers to incite the good people of Ghana against this critical decision that faces the nation,” he said.
The Executive Secretary stated that two of the major oil refineries. Wilmar Africa and Avnash Industries have currently shut down their refineries due to low demand adding that in a matter of weeks the impact of this situation would hit member companies in the plantation and oil mill subsector of the chain.
By Raymond Ackumey