Business News of 2014-07-16

Confusion rocks Chamber of Commerce

The Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has said it is putting structures in place to ensure that its operations are streamlined in accordance with laid down procedures.

That, the chamber explained, had become necessary in view of the impasse between the national body and its Sekondi-Takoradi branch, which has resulted in some of the executives of the latter breaking away to form an autonomous body. That notwithstanding, the GCCI has declared the newly formed and registered Sekondi-Takoradi Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry (STRCCI), led by the former chairman, Mr Ato Van-Ess, as an illegal entity.

Speaking at a press conference in Accra, the President of the GCCI, Mr Seth Adjei-Baah, said the chamber was building structures to ensure that the issues that had arisen did not repeat themselves, reiterating their commitment to ensure that the chamber stands tall and firm in the affairs of the national economy.

The first area of focus, according to him, is a review of the existing constitution of the chamber to ensure that regional chairmen are given a fixed term of office as is the case of the national executives. “With the approval of council, the chamber is looking at the constitution. One grey issue is that there is no term for the regional executives as is the case of the national executives,” he said.

He further explained that “Mr Van-Ess has been there for almost eight years so he has put himself as the most mature regional chairman in the chamber. The new constitution will give three years per term for the regional chairman but one can only run for office twice, and so when you look at that automatically, next year he has no mandate to contest again.”

Areas of contention

Meanwhile, the GCCI has downplayed reasons cited by the Sekondi-Takoradi Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry (STRCCI) for its break away from the mother association. The reasons, according to the STRCCI, were grievances which the national executives failed to address and they bothered on issues relating to land acquisition, national officers allowance, and victimisation of the STRCCI, racial discrimination and threat to transfer the STRCCI executive secretary to Accra.

Clearing the air on the allegations, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GCCI, Mr Mark Badu-Aboagye, said the disagreements stemmed from the desire of one individual, Mr Ato Van-Ess, to rise through the ranks of the chamber, although he failed to secure the mandate from members.

According to Mr Badu-Aboagye, Mr Van Ess in 2012 wanted to be the CEO of the chamber. He, however, came last during the recruitment process and therefore decided to focus on the presidency of the chamber.

“Interestingly, his own executives in STRCCI failed to nominate him as demanded by the Chamber’s constitution to contest the election and that was the beginning of his egregious behaviour and lack of cooperation with the national officers and the council,” he explained.

On the issue of land acquisition, the chamber explained that the land in contention was US$400,000 and not the US$450,000 being circulated by Mr Van-Ess. On the national officers’ allowance, Mr Badu-Aboagye explained that the US$500 per day covered the national officers’ accommodation, feeding, ground transportation and any ancillary expenses which might arise while the officers were performing duties on behalf of the chamber outside the country.

He said the regional chairmen of the chamber also took US$400 per day, while senior managers took US$300 per day, with the junior staff taking US$200 per day during official duties outside the country. “Ironically, Mr Van-Ess, until recently the Chairman of the STRCCI, has been enjoying this allowance anytime he travels but he never saw anything wrong with it,” Mr Badu-Aboagye explained.

Dismissal of officers

Meanwhile, three executive members of the STRCCI have been dismissed with immediate effect. Mr Ato Van-Ess, the Chairman of the STRCCI; Mr Cadmond Dadzie, the Vice-Chairman, and Mr Matthew Ade, the Treasurer, were axed from the association following moves they instituted to make the Sekondi/Takoradi wing of the GCCI an autonomous one.

Per the dismissal, the three former executives are to return all property and assets of the chamber in their possession, cease operating as regional executives in the name of the chamber as well as disassociate themselves from the activities of the chamber in any manner. Some members of the STRCCI have expressed their disappointment at the turn out of events in the Chamber and are optimistic the grey areas would be ironed out soon.

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