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NPRA approves SSNIT's hotel shares sale to Rock City - Employment Minister reveals

Contrary to a recent directive by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to halt the sale of 60% of its shares in its hotel investment portfolio, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, has disclosed that the NPRA has made a U-turn and given its blessing to the controversial sale.

Ignatius Baffour Awuah, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations

Answering questions in Parliament regarding the sale of four of SSNIT's hotels to Rock City Hotels, owned by the Minister for Agriculture, Bryan Acheampong, Baffour Awuah said: "Yes, so, as a minister, I can tell you on authority that NPRA has since indicated that they have seen the processes, and they think that SSNIT can go ahead."

On 28 June, the NPRA directed SSNIT to pause its negotiations with Rock City concerning the sale of four hotels, pending further evaluation and engagement. The sector minister, while addressing Parliament, confirmed that all necessary procedures had been followed.

"Yes, it is true that NPRA came up with a directive, but I would appreciate it if my brother, my colleague, really read the directive from NPRA. It said it needed to be finished with all information relating to the sale of the hotels, which SSNIT has since done," stated Mr. Baffour Awuah. "So, it wasn’t like a direct something that SSNIT should not go ahead to do anything, but then, SSNIT can only go ahead when NPRA, which is the regulator within the field, had actually certified that they have seen all the documentation and the processes, and they think that we are good to go."

The minister also provided insights into the rationale behind the decision to sell SSNIT’s 60% shares in the hotels. "SSNIT considered only the sale of shares for its hotel investment portfolio as a strategic decision after multiple attempts at restructuring proved insufficient," he explained. "70-60% of its shares are deemed the most viable solution to prevent further depletion of resources and to bring in private participation."

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Addressing concerns about the financial prudence of the sale, Mr. Baffour Awuah remarked, "Is it a good business activity? Yes, I want to believe my colleague is listening to me fully, well because I answered by saying that some of the investments are either making low returns or making losses. So it is not in all cases that we are making losses, but even for those that are making profits, the rate of returns is lower."

The hotel sale deal has sparked anger among members of the Trades Union Congress and other stakeholders who have all opposed it. Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, and the National Democratic Congress recently led a demonstration against the deal, which they described as ‘state capture’, and presented a petition to President Akufo-Addo asking him to order a halt to the sale of the hotels.

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