ATUABO Free Port Clarifies�We Are Not Enjoying 50 Yrs Tax Holiday

The management of Atuabo Free Port has debunked claims that they are going to enjoy 50 years tax holiday as part of an exclusivity clause in an agreement they signed with government. According to them, once they are under the Free Zones Board, they are bound by its regulations just like any other foreign company in the country. The Trade Union�s Congress (TUC) in a statement expressed their disappointment at the fact that Parliament has given Atuabo Free Port the nod to go ahead with its operations. �...the exclusivity clause in the agreement, including a possible 50-year tax holiday, gives a private company a veto power over Ghana�s right to develop any other such facility in the country,� the statement claimed. However, during an Editor�s Forum held on Friday 14th November, 2014, Mr Stephen Gray, Director of Atuabo Free Port stated that they are going to enjoy a 10 years tax holiday; as stipulated in the Free Zones regulations and not 50 years. �All companies under the Free Zones Board enjoy the same incentives and it is 10 years and not 50 years. We are not treated differently�the incentives we are given, other foreign companies also enjoy same,� he indicated. The Free Zones Act 504 provides tax holiday of 10 years for companies operating in areas demarcated as Free Zones. Thereafter Corporate tax is paid at the rate not above 8%. According to the Free Zones Board, �tax reliefs are granted by the Government in order to encourage certain forms of behaviour and actions, such as the education of children and care for the aged�. The Atuabo Free Port, apart from the TUC�s disagreement, has faced other setbacks including a court injunction. Mr. Lawrence Lamptey, Commercial Manager, speaking to the court action, said once the ruling was in their favour, Atuabo Free Port can go ahead with the rest of its plans. Construction Time Mr Lamptey disclosed that by the second quarter of 2015, the project will for 25 months: �We are praying and hoping�there are pre-preparations going on before the construction begins but hopefully by second quarter we will kick the ground the 5th month the procurement of Major materials will be done, commencement of construction of industrial buildings will follow by the 11 month, completion of the Main Breakwater up to CH1.6 will be ready by the 17th month, Soft Opening of MOSB/Fabrication Area & Airstrip will be done by the 21st month and by the 25th month, completion rig repair and remaining areas will follow�. Ownership Structure "Ghanaian shareholders will own 45 percent and within the 45 percent, 10 percent will go to the Government of Ghana, while 35 percent will be purchased on commercial terms by Ghanaian institutions. Apart from that, Lonrho will have 35% and 20 percent will be owned by other institutional investors: Ghanaian investor group co-ordinated by the Ministry of Finance" explained Mr Reginald Okai, Chief Financial Officer. Adding her voice to the forum, Mrs Philomena Kuzoe, External Affairs Officer said the project has strong stakeholder support, gives employment to hundreds of Ghanaians including residents of Atuabo in the Western Region, does not compete with GPHA (Ghana Ports and Habour Authority) traditional market as well as engage in a community based skills development programme through Sominu Manpower Agency. View attached document