–PMMC Boss Cries Out
The Managing Director (MD) of the Precious Mineral Marketing Company (PMMC), has expressed frustration over recent phenomena in the mining industry where foreigners, especially Indians, have illegally taking over the sector with impunity.
“Go to the airport in the evening and see who and who are doing export. It is all foreigners, Indians especially, Chinese, Lebanese, Nigerians, and I think Ghana is the only country on this earth where you can do such a thing.
Previously, before this thing happened, we were operating the COCOBOD model, where all small scale gold miners, were supposed to pass through PMMC for export and we ensured a hundred percent repatriation to shore up the Cedi.
And media men, I am very sorry to tell you that this is precisely one of the reasons why the Cedi is at where it is now. Because, it is the Indians out there, the Chinese out there, who are determining the exchange rate”, he explained.
PMMC, established in 1953, as a Limited Liability Company, operating with the Government of Ghana as the sole shareholder, according to George Abradu-Otoo, is handicapped presently as it is struggling to compete with these foreigners, who mostly storm Ghana illegally to engage in the buying and transporting of precious
minerals, a job reserved for PMMC.
“There is corruption at our small scale gold mining industry, and that is where we should drive our strength towards. People are here, especially Indians; they are taking our gold for nothing, nobody is checking who, there is no monitoring”, the PMMC boss said.
George Abradu-Otoo, went on that “Just go to Tarkwa as we speak right now, you will see Indians and it is illegal. They are not supposed to do that, but somehow, because laws don’t work in Ghana that is what is happening now, and nobody is checking. We have reported this matter, but up till now nothing is being done”.
The PMMC boss, made this known when the management and the board jointly organized a media interaction recently to clarify a media publication claiming rot in the company. The MD revealed that the action of these foreign businessmen, have somewhat contributed to the depreciation of the Cedi.
Mr. Abradu-Otoo said, “There is something that is now called Dubai rate, there is a Dubai rate and there is Ghana rate, so they call you the “galamseyer” and or the small scale miner and tell you that we are offering you Dubai rate which is higher.
What it is that, when they export the gold, they keep it offshore, call their colleagues in Ghana and say here look, I have US$1 million or US$500,000, what is your rate? The person says, I will give you this, the bank rate is [let say] 3.28, I will give you 3.4. They transact the business, he gives him Cedis, and the foreign currency remains abroad.
Fellow countrymen, how can we be in a country like this? I always tell people that Ghana is the only country where you can do this. Where you can come straight from your country, go to Obuasi, go to the mining areas and start digging our gold and export on your own, when you are not suppose to do that. People call me all the time PMMC, what are you doing?
Last time, a big man from the Ghana Airport Company called and said, why have you allowed foreigners to take over the export of gold, but what can I do? I am not a security man, I cannot go there and physically restrain anybody from exporting, it is for the laws to work.
You can just come, some of them don’t even have license and they go to the mining areas and give monies to these “galamsyers”, pre-finance them to get the gold for them at the detriment of PMMC, because the price they are offering, we cannot match and more so, they transfer these moneys outside and not even a pesewa is repatriated back into the country”.
Information from the PMMC is that, though the appropriate authorities have been informed and several assurances from the Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Nii Osah Mills, there has not been any clear cut effort to rid these people out of the mining areas.
“If you are talking about rot, the media houses that are here, we want you to help us to highlight some of the rots we are mentioning, I have done my best, we are pushing in the right circles, we are making the correct noises, we have been given some assurances that they are going to do something about it”, he noted.
He denied any wrong doing as reported by the Business Guide Newspaper, a sister tabloid of the Daily Guide Newspaper saying, “May I hasten to say that there is no rot at PMMC, I think the rot that they should have written about, was the rot in the small scale mining industry, not rot at PMMC”.
He denied allegation of corruption saying, “There are no malfeasance or somebody chopping money or somebody doing connection, there is nothing like that because nothing of the sort has happened. All of these people here as management members, will bear me out. So far, we haven’t had any case of corruption before us. “So the rot in the small scale gold mining industry is what they should be talking about, not rot at PMMC”.
The Business Guide Newspaper on the MD’s salary, had alleged that “…George Abradu-Otoo, Managing Director of PMMC took GH¢24,000.00 as basic salary as at October 2014, whereas his predecessor, Damptey Reuben, received GH¢9,452.24, as his take home pay as at January 2014.
Though the company, will not mention the specific amount the MD is earning for strategic reasons, it justified it with the Board Chairman, Brig. General Charles Richter-Addo, explaining that, the MD’s salary is the lowest compared to others in the industry.
He said, because of the situation of the company, they had to delay the ex-banker’s salary to ensure that due diligence was conducted on how much was appropriate to pay him.
He said, the MD was getting what he was getting, because the Board wanted someone with “business sense”, hence the reason they hired a banker, adding that they have started achieving results.
“Of all the research I did and my team did, his was the lowest, but I can understand why there will be some concern, but we are looking at it in long term”, Brig. Gen. Richter-Addo, added.
On plans to build a gold refinery, Mr. Abradu-Otoo, said the refinery when completed would be the state-of-the-art gold refinery in the whole of Africa.
He said, it has suffered delay, because of a legal tussle pending, so though the facility is still at the foundation level, it cannot resume work, until the matter is settled by the Attorney General.
The MD said, his administration inherited wealth and so much debts, including judgment debts, it has been approached by three different companies to get the facility completed, but they are threading cautiously not to incur additional judgment debt with the current contractor, Geo Professional Service Limited, headed by Ramazan Kafarov.
Mr. Abradu-Otoo, explained that when his administration took office, it set up a committee to look at the strength and weakness of the company. A three-day meeting held in Koforidua, came up with some recommendations one of which was that the Diamond Cutting Centre (DCC) be shut down for the time being, pending restructuring
because of the loses the DCC was making and the general fall in prices of diamond.
According to him, though the department was making no profit, it was spending so much on expatriates and so it was agreed that they disengage them, while their Ghanaian counterparts, were sent to different departments of the company.
The MD refuted allegation of any dismissal, saying going by the decision of the Kofiridua meeting, the company decided that the security and cleaning departments, who were employed as permanent staff be outsourced to save the company some cash.
He said, following that agreement he ensure that those companies that won the contracts employed the six cleaners and eight security men, whose services PMMC was parting with.