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Ghanaian businesses urged to be politically neutral

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A Corporate lawyer, Mr Kimathi Kuenyehia Sr., has advised businesses in the country to remain politically neutral as the surest way of protecting their businesses from political interference.

The Solicitor and Barrister, who is also an Attorney and Counsellor in New York, the United States, said it was important for business concerns, especially foreign investors, not to play any front line role in political activities as people would normally tag the company with political colours and frustrate it when they were in power.

Speaking on “7 Practical Ways to Protect Investments in Ghana” at a business dinner organised by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), Mr Kuenyehia said political interference would come in different forms, either from the central government or individual local partners, to frustrate investors who were perceived to be aligned to one political entity or the other.

Besides that parties doing business in Ghana should do an extensive due diligence and not gloss over certain vital “pre=nuptial” business agreements.

The Harvard-trained lawyer whose practice involves exclusively representing foreign investors in structuring, negotiating and implementing international projects in Ghana, said that although some of Ghana’s laws, such as the Investment Code, allowed for joint ventures between Ghanaians and foreign counterparts, it was important for each partner to research on their respective backgrounds and agree on gray areas in order not to frustrate their existence in future.

“Very often, both parties neglect due diligence. This does not give way to the pre-nuptial agreement which should spell out important areas such as exit clauses, how to value interests in the business and what to do when one party decides to quit,” Mr Kuenyehia said.

Before setting out to do business in the country, the barrister advised prospective investors to employ the services of competent advisors, especially local ones who were well versed in the Ghanaian legal and operational framework.

“But in them, look for integrity and do not allow advisors to tell you to indulge in underhand dealings or cut corners to get things done, else it could be used as grounds to frustrate the business operation in future.”

He stressed the importance of the advisors to observe strict confidentiality and  capacity of giving utmost personal attention to the client.
Companies also need to maintain good relationship with the community within which they operated, he said.

This reality had been captured in the United Nations Global Compact, which spells out a number of ways in which companies can be deemed socially responsible, including their adherence to the environment, labour friendliness and upholding human rights.

Mr Kuenyehia said the investors in the country must take corporate social responsibility seriously.

The basic programme should be the institution of scholarships to help brilliant children from the communities in which they operated to guarantee them the continued peaceful atmosphere for smooth operations.

Mr Kuenyehia, who is also the Managing Partner of Kimathi & Kimathi, Corporate Attorneys, reminded investors to be courteous and polite with all their constituents, especially their subordinates, adding that they also needed to establish a rapport with the media.

To the extent that the labour front in Ghana differs from places such as the United States, where it was easy to hire and fire workers, the investment lawyer said the Ghanaian case required that workers were given a hearing and sufficient cautions before they were relieved of their duty.
Source: Daily Graphic

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