The Oil Palm Development Association of Ghana says the suspension of the reversal of the 50percent benchmark value policy is a counterproductive measure to government’s aggressive steps towards the industrialization of the local economy.
They cited initiatives such as the Planting for Food and Jobs, Planting for Export and Rural Development are initiatives that won’t thrive under the strategy that subsidises imports while maintaining stiffer conditions under which local industry—including the oil palm sector—must operate.
“We are calling on the government to immediately reconsider its decision to indefinitely suspend the implementation of the review of the 50percent benchmark reduction policy.
What faces us now is a big choice between the source of livelihood of over 24,000persons who depend on the productivity of the entire value chain of the oil palm sector and the profits of the few importers of edible oil products in the country,” the oil producers said.
They added that the sector faces a serious situation currently and thousands of jobs will be lost if the suspension of the reversal of the benchmark value lingers on.
“We find the indication of the government for more stakeholder engagement very worrying and intriguing. This is because for 2 years, government have been engaging with all relevant stakeholders consistently. We are baffled by what the objective of a further call for stakeholder engagement is and why an indefinite suspension of the implementation of the review at this time.”
The producers argued that some oil palm manufacturing organisations such as refineries have been through very challenging times with employee numbers due to low productivity caused by the influx of cheap imported finished oil products.
“Over 500 temporary jobs have already been lost and further downsizing the staff numbers remain the only short-term option to save their plants
Closures are imminent in a few months from now if the situation of a takeover by imports remains the same,” the producers said.
Currently, two major oil refineries Wilmar Africa and Avnash Industries have shut down their plants due to low demand, a situation the oil producers said is bound to escalate to other member in the planation and the oil mill subsector of the chain.
They added that these large refineries who have shutdown recently were able to survive in the past two years due to export opportunities they developed within the sub-region.
“These opportunities are all lost now as these destination countries have also taken steps to empower local production of oil palm products to create jobs and reduce import to save their economies,” they added.