Business News of 2014-06-20

STC committee chases GH¢13,000 with GH¢14,000

A committee constituted by the majority shareholder of Intercity STC, SSNIT -- to investigate an alleged conflict of interest in the payment of GH¢13,000 to some STC employees -- received over GH¢14,000 as sitting allowances, B&FT investigations have revealed.

The background to creation of the committee, according to B&FT sources, is that from June 2009 to July 2012, STC deducted monies from employees’ salaries to be paid into a staff provident fund. However, due to the financial challenges the transport company was going through, it was unable to pay the money to the provident fund manager.

Subsequently, employees of STC at a union meeting passed a resolution for the monies deducted to be paid back to them. However, it was not clear how much each worker was owed; thus the union passed a resolution to pay one percent of the deductions to whomever was able to accurately determine what was due to each employee.

A small group of employees allegedly completed this task and was paid GH¢13,000 -- being one percent of the deductions.

But following agitation by the workers late last year over the GH¢13,000 payment and other issues they were unhappy about, the board of STC wrote to SSNIT to inform it of the causes of the workers’ disturbances.

SSNIT then appointed the four-member committee, aided by a secretary, in 2013 to investigate and address the issues raised by the workers.

Chief among the committee’s duties was to investigate the circumstances surrounding the payment of the said GH¢13,000.

The members received a total of GH¢14,780 in cheque payments between October 2013 and January 2014 for their work.

But the committee’s remuneration, which was in excess of the amount being investigated -- and the fact that even though the committee has submitted a report to the board of STC, a second committee has been commissioned to investigate the same issues -- has raised questions about SSNIT’s oversight of STC and its regard for value-for-money principles given that it is a public pensions manager.

On Monday this paper brought to light a payment of GH¢2.4million SSNIT made in 2011 to Vanef Consortium, the former majority owner of STC, to settle claims by Vanef on STC.

The payment seemed questionable since this paper’s investigation revealed that SSNIT paid the money without recourse to STC -- and in spite of STC itself having claims worth GH¢2.8million against Vanef since 2003.

After the publication, SSNIT said its board will discuss the GH¢2.4million payment at its next meeting.

STC has for years been in a precarious financial situation and has been borrowing to pay salaries and creditors.

SSNIT, which took a decision to settle STC’s liabilities, has so far paid about GH¢28 million to the transport company’s creditors.

Source: B&FT
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