Test for GIPC, Gov't Over Investor's Ordeal
Lawyers for Afra Airlines are preparing to take action aimed at contesting the cancellation of the Air Carrier's License of the airline, as well as the revocation yesterday, of the resident permits of the CEO Mr. Luke Butler and his IT Manager, Mr. Andrew Lachajczak, effective from yesterday.
Sources close to Butler's lawyers told the Chronicle that the revocation of the resident permit came as a shock to Butler, as they had been assured just two days earlier, by the Director of Immigration, Ms Elizabeth Adjei, that there was not going to be a change to his status.
According to the source, Mr. Butler has already written to the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), drawing the investment promoters' attention to the arbitrariness of the action.
The source indicated that Mr. Butler, in the said letter is calling on the GIPC, to in the interim prevail on the Director of Immigration, to stay his action, citing unfair treatment on several grounds. GIPC officials had promised to stand by Butler because he registered with the centre as a foreign investor.
Under Article 29 paragraph 3, of the GIPC Dispute Resolution Procedures, "Where in respect of any dispute, there is disagreement between the investor and the Government as to the method of dispute settlement to be adopted, the choice of the investor shall prevail."
Mr. Butler, was said to be getting set to pursue the matter to the neutral International Arbitration Court in Basel, Switzerland, taking advantage of the above-stated provision under the GIPC laws.
Afra Airlines, according to the source would be seeking to recover from the state the losses that it has incurred as a result of the unfair treatments it has received.
Chronicle investigations revealed that while it took 8 months to issue Afra Airlines with their Air Carrier's Licence (ACL), due to feet-dragging by officialdom, the former Minister responsible for Aviation, Dr. Richard Anane, approved that of Ghana International Airlines (GIA), in 6 weeks. It normally took between 2 to 3 months to acquire this.
Even though the revocation of the resident permits is being made to appear to be due to the cancellation of the company's ACL, that is untenable, because Mr. Butler had been granted a resident permit on November 24th, 2004, when the company had no ACL. The ACL was granted on January 6, this year.
Chronicle investigations revealed that even in the sub-region, airlines like Air Ivoire and Bellview, have not obtained licences from Ghana. In the same way, the many international airlines, including the Royal Dutch Airlines KLM and Alitalia, operate on international licences granted elsewhere. Chronicle investigations further revealed that Afra Airlines holds a valid international licence, issued from the Comoros. Mr. Butler, meanwhile, has a stake in Global Air Group, which has licence to operate in Ghana.
He is also married to a Ghanaian, Mrs. Simone Ayele Butler.