PBC workers ask for bailout to service GH¢700m debt

Workers of the Producer Buying Company (PBC) Limited have appealed to government for a bail out to enable the company service its debt and re-profile its short term maturing debt to a long-term one.

This, they said, would give the company the needed space to recover and retire all debt properly to ensure that it became a vibrant company once more.

This was stated in a press release by the Professional and Managerial Staff Union (PMSU) and Local Workers Union.

They said the current debt profile of the company amounted to GH¢700 million, making it difficult to access funds directly from Cocoa Board and other financial institutions.

“PBC Limited currently owes almost every bank in Ghana and several service providers and suppliers. Banks are not ready to transact any business with the company. The cocoa buying industry is now dominated by foreign business entities and the company is fast losing out.

“We need a letter of comfort from the government to enable us access funds directly from Cocoa Board. This will take away the need for bank guarantees which come at high interest rate,” the workers stated.

Addressing the workers at a Press Conference on Tuesday, Mr Solomon Kotei, the General Secretary of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), said the union had petitioned the President and was optimistic that the grievances of the workers and for that matter the company would be resolved.

He said the status of the once vibrant company, especially in the last three years, compelled the union to take such an action.

“Now, in the last three years it was obvious that the liquidity problem of PBC has come to a point where as I talk to you the current light crop position, PBC has not been able to participate and will not be able to participate.

“Based upon this trend, we were compelled to make a petition to the President and our petition was given a great hearing on Friday,” he said.

He said the President had assured them that measures would be put in place by September this year to ensure the revamp of the company in order to avoid job losses.

The General Secretary urged the workers to adopt positive work attitude by holding each other accountable in order to cut the volumes of shortages that had characterized and crippled the company in the past years.

“All of us are supposed to become proper vigilantes to take watch over whatever is coming to us to start the main crop. We are not supposed to look on but rather speak out, name, shame and possibly have people chased from their offices,” he stated.

He further assured the workers union of the national union’s readiness to collaborate with them to ensure a restoration of the lost glory of PBC.

Prince Saviour Gankui, National Chairman of Professional and Managerial Staff Union (PMSU) on his part expressed his satisfaction about the General Secretary’s assurance, adding that “we believe that the President will deliver on his promise and we as staff are pledging that we are going to work to make sure PBC works again”.

PBC limited was incorporated in the year 1999 and listed on the Ghana stock exchange after it was weaned from the Ghana Cocoa Board as part of the liberalisation of the cocoa sector.

Its shareholders are Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) with a total of 38.10 per cent, the Ministry of Finance 36.69 per cent, all on behalf of the government, and the remaining 25.21 per cent by private individuals and institutions.

The government of the day has absolute control of the company through the appointment of seven out of the 11 Board Members. These are the Chairman of the Board, representatives from the Ministry of Finance and executive management.

Source: GNA

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