Nana Ohene Ntow laments Govt’s failure to halt sale of SSNIT hotels; says it’s strange


Nana Ohene Ntow, a campaign aide for the Movement for Change, has expressed shock over the government’s failure to stop the controversial sale of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) hotels to Rock City Hotel.

During an interview on The Big Issue on Channel One TV, hosted by Selorm Adonoo, Nana Ohene Ntow questioned the government’s reluctance to cancel the controversial sale of SSNIT hotels despite widespread public opposition.

He passionately argued against the sale of Labadi Beach Hotel, citing its consistent profitability over the years and making a strong case for its exclusion from the list of hotels slated for privatisation

The Campaign Aide of Movement for Change said Lababi Beach Hotel is a performing asset, labelling its sale to a cabinet minister as “improper”.

“I think whatever the procedure may be, a state agency sold to a cabinet minister is improper. I’m not saying it’s illegal or unconstitutional, I’m saying it is not proper, and it doesn’t sit well… It doesn’t make sense that the hotels are all loss-making. The facts on the ground don’t support that position. At least not for Labadi Hotel.

“The information I have and when I checked is that in 2022, Labadi Hotel declared a dividend of GHC25 million to the sole shareholder SSNIT.

He stressed, “TUC has waded into this matter because it involves workers’ monies and pensions. So how can the government divest itself of an investment that is financed by workers’ contributions into a public pension fund? And the government decides not to listen, I find that very strange. And I find a defence of that kind of transaction not acceptable to the people of Ghana.

“At least the Labadi Beach Hotel is a performing asset. And if it is a performing asset, then it’s completely improper for the government under any circumstance to try and divest it into a private hand… Here is a cabinet minister of state, with one leg in government, and one leg in business. That is already controversial.”

Nana Ohene Ntow urged President Nana Akufo-Addo to step in and intervene in the controversial sale of Labadi Beach Hotel, by heeding to public’s sentiments of protecting state assets.

“I think that public decency requires that if the government is dealing with public funds, pension funds, workers’ funds, and at least the TUC has spoken. I think the government must listen… I think the government must unpack the whole transaction properly.

“If the public is giving you such a reaction, I don’t think the government or SSNIT should insist…SSNIT should listen to the sentiments of workers and their representatives and citizens of this land.

“If nothing at all, I think the President should intervene in this matter. The government must take a closer look at this matter,” he opined.

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Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, has provided documents to substantiate his claims that Rock City Hotel is operating at a loss.

This comes after the MP vehemently opposed the decision by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to sell 60 percent of its shares in four hotels to Rock City Hotel, alleging that the hotel was unprofitable and promised to provide evidence to support his assertion.

Minister for Food and Agriculture, Bryan Acheampong, owner of Rock City Hotel has refuted allegations that his hotel is operating at a loss and challenged Ablakwa to provide evidence to support his claims.

However, in an interview on Accra-based Metro TV, Ablakwa revealed that according to documents he obtained, Rock City Hotel had reported to the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) on March 12, 2021, that they expected to incur losses for that year, contradicting the Minister’s assertions.

Additionally, Ablakwa alleged that Rock City Hotel failed to file tax returns with the GRA for the entire year of 2022, further supporting his claims of the hotel’s financial struggles and questionable business practices.

“12th March 2021, they posted returns and said that year, they would be making losses, then two years later, they returned on the 9th of March 2023 and did a debit adjustment that they had two withholding taxes, which came up to GHC20,782. And that’s all you have for 2021. So, they told the GRA on the 12th of March that that year, they will make losses,” he stated.

He added, “As for 2022, there were no filings at all. If you notice, no filings at all. Then I break this news. I go to CHRAJ on the 17th of May. I broke the news here on this show. The following week, they rushed to the GRA. So, you see here, 23rd May 2024 that we [hotel] now want to come and make do our tax obligations for 2022, for two years ago.”

The MP questioned how the hotel got a tax clearance certificate to participate in the bid when it had not filed its taxes for two years.

“So, it means that when they put in the bid, they clearly didn’t have a tax clearance certificate. So, you see here that after my exposé, they go to GRA on 23rd May 2024, and say we will post losses. We made losses for 2022. Then they went back again the same day and said, no, we are changing that fact.

“We believe that if you process the profits we made, we can pay a tax. A tax liability of 395,000 Ghana cedis, bizarre. And so, on that 23rd May, they are then asked by GRA to pay a penalty of 4,390 Ghana cedis. According to the SSNIT statement that was put out on the 19th of May, a copy of which I have here, if you look at the timelines, they said they started this process in 2018 and got the transaction advice in 2018.

He stressed, “Then they started the bid for the hotel purchase, the tender, for the sale of the hotels in 2022. So, you hadn’t filed your taxes for two years. How did they get a tax clearance certificate to participate in the bid? So, 2022, it was after my exposé that they hurriedly rushed to GRA, and they went there twice,” he pointed out.

“First, they say, we made losses in 2022. Then they went back and said, no, the way the trajectory, the way this MP is going, we made some profits. So, they amended the records, and they were fined. This is the penalty that they paid 4,390 [Ghana cedis]. Significant development after my petition to CHRAJ.

He claimed Rock City Hotel only filed its taxes on April 20 after the first quarter that they would make losses that year.

“So, when I said that what you [Rock City Hotel] have told GRA about your operations last year – that you will make no profits and you are now going to buy a Labadi Beach Hotel making a profit of one hundred and fifty-eight million, it should have been the other way round.

“Labadi Beach Hotel is more profitable. I was speaking to the documents; I was speaking to the intercepted fillings at the GRA, fact.”

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