Business News of 2014-03-21

SSNIT hot over bad investment

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament yesterday grilled officials of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) over what was described as a bad investment, which the officials themselves accepted as being fraudulent, resulting in the loss of thousands of Ghana cedis.
SSNIT gave GH¢572,000 to Sterling Investment Security, a private financial institution, in July 2005, to invest in a 91-day treasury bill which was supposed to yield GH¢22,000 every three months, but both the seed capital and the returns on the money had gone waste because the company had been sold to new investors.
The officials, led by the Acting Director-General who is also the General Manager in-charge of finance, Nii A. Nablah, were questioned by the Committee on why efforts had not been made to trace Sterling Investment Security and retrieve the money to Ghanaians who have been contributing to the Trust.
The Chairman of the Committee, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, was clearly not enthused about the laxity with which SSNIT officials were approaching the issue and ordered them to take immediate steps to recover the money together with interest.
“We cannot afford to be losing such monies belonging to Ghanaian workers to bad investments; and Parliament will want the money quickly recovered with interest,” he said, adding that members of the Committee would be doing a follow-up on how SSNIT was going to recover the money.
According to the Chairman, the money should be retrieved before the Committee presents its report to the plenary.
Officials of SSNIT had explained that when it folded up, it (SSNIT) reported the company to the Security and Exchange Commission so that it could be brought to book.
A member of the Committee, Richard Quashigah, expressed concern about the continuous loss posted by Golden Beach Hotels, which is being run by SSNIT, but Nii A. Nablah and his colleagues explained that it was as a result of the costs involved in running the headquarters of the three Golden Beach Hotels – La Palm, Elmina and Busua.
The Acting Director-General said the Golden Beach Hotels, especially the La Palm one, had been making profits but the huge overhead costs by the headquarters had been eroding the profits and therefore the Trust had decided to either collapse or dissolve the headquarters.
Questions were also raised about SSNIT’s investment in GAFCO, which the Committee thought did not make economic sense.
At yesterday’s PAC sitting, a delegation of Zambian legislators on official visit to the country was there to observe proceedings.