MDAs Owe Graphic GH₵14Million – Managing Director Reveals –
Ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) owe the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) GH¢14 million, the Managing Director of the company, Ato Afful, has indicated.
He said the GCGL had taken an initiative, on the instruction of its Board of Directors, to write to the Minister of Finance to enable the MDAs to defray their indebtedness to the state-owned autonomous media house.
He said the company had been following up on the issue and expressed the hope that by the end of next month, “we will get a better hand around that matter”.
“We are working through the State Interests and Governance Authority and also the Ministry of Information to get a certain clarity on that,” he added.
Mr Afful made the disclosure when the GCGL appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament in Accra yesterday as one of the agencies under the Ministry of Information.
He was responding to a question from the Vice-Chairman of the PAC, Dr Samuel Atta Mills, on the status of MDAs’ indebtedness to the company.
Mr Afful said the overdue receivable of the company was to the tune of GH¢24 million, with advertisements amounting to GH¢14.6 million and unpaid subscriptions (copies of newspaper sales) pegged at GH¢9.8 million.
“MDAs contribute significantly to the debt of the Daily Graphic; they contribute about 60 per cent of the newspaper receivables and also they owe the company for adverts placed,” he added.
Asked by Dr Atta Mills whether the receivables now were better than last year, Mr Afful answered: “That position is much better because out of the efforts at reviewing our business, we had to tighten our credit policy and other systems at the backend of our business, including reinforcing our Finance directorate.”
He said the company was now able to report clearly in terms of where its revenue buckets were and the receivable positions on a day-to-day basis and a month-to-month basis.
“But one of the pleas I would make is that at the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) level, the debts are not moving that much,” he said.
Mr Afful said if the MMDAs were paying on a quarterly basis, based on how they received subventions or support, their indebtedness would be minimal.
However, he said, the receivables had accrued over five to 10 years, and that anytime the assemblies were pursued to settle their indebtedness, they reacted by cutting subscriptions.
Meanwhile, he said, the same bodies came back to the company for help to promote the work of government, saying: “This is not helping us.”
Curiously, Mr Afful said, the cost of the company’s production inputs had tripled over the last 18 months, as they were dollar-indexed.
He, therefore, underscored the need for all institutions that owed the company to settle their indebtedness as the company continued to play the role of a “Big Brother” in the media industry.
The Managing Director also cited the government’s textbook project, in which the GCGL took part as a printer and delivered the books ahead of schedule, saying the company was yet to be paid for work done.
A member of the committee and Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa South, Dr Clement Apaak, confirmed that publishers and printers had confirmed that the government was yet to pay them regarding the project that they undertook and urged the government to do the needful.
In response to a question by the MP for Ningo-Prampram, Sam George, for the Daily Graphic to publish the frequencies of radio stations for public good, the MD said the company would consider that.
Commenting on a suggestion from the Deputy Ranking Member, Davis Opoku Ansah, on the company leveraging subscriptions to shore up its revenue, the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said although subscriptions formed part of the revenue basket, it also formed part of the challenges that were being spoken about, in which some entities, particularly public ones, subscribed but did not pay.
He said he had assisted the company to collect outstanding debts but the recovery rate had not been good because of obvious challenges.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah said now it was better to cut down on the subscription and the cost associated with it than to incur debt.
New Times Corporation
Earlier, the Managing Director of the New Times Corporation, Martin Adu-Owusu, had, among other things, told the committee that for over 30 years the company had not been supported.
“We have never received support. Now we are taking our destiny into our hands,” he said.
But Mr Oppong Nkrumah said the ministry was looking at a number of options on how to get the corporation support to be a well-functioning and profitable entity.
“Yes, a number of options are being considered,” he said.