The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has debunked claims by the Minority in Parliament that the Akufo-Addo administration has diverted a whopping $650 million of the $1.3 billion cocoa syndicated loan.
The said amount is believed to be the first tranche of the syndicated loan for the 2018/2019 crop season.
The Minority, in a statement signed by its ranking member on the Finance Committee, Casiel Ato Forson, on Monday, November 26, 2018, accused the government of diverting the funds into other areas.
However, the former deputy Minister of Finance under the previous Mahama administration, which abysmally managed Ghana’s economy from 2012 to 2017, could not cite areas where the funds had been diverted to, except to cynically refer to a research by a group called the Centre for Socio-economic Studies (CSS).
BUSINESS GUIDE gathered that CSS alleged that COCOBOD had failed to allocate funds to the Produce Buying Company (PBC) and other Licenced Buying Companies (LBCs).
But Public Affairs Directorate of COCOBOD, in response to the allegations, said that it was grossly untrue that it had refused to allocate funds to LBCs for cocoa purchases as speculated by the NDC.
The statement, which was signed by COCOBOD’s Chief Executive, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said: “We would like to urge cocoa farmers, in particular, stakeholders and the general public to ignore such claims. The statement raised by the Minority does not cover the real issues, but mainly seeks to create an erroneous impression that COCOBOD has diverted the funds meant for cocoa purchases into investments at the expense of cocoa farmers.”
It said: “The Ghana Cocoa Board drew the first tranche of $650 million on 4th October, 2018, from the $1.3 billion syndicated trade facility for cocoa purchases.
“Per the rules of the internal marketing of cocoa, COCOBOD has allocated Seed Fund to deserving Licensed Buying Companies for cocoa purchases.”
To ensure the safety of public funds, it observed that individual LBCs are required to submit bank guarantee to access the Seed Funds to make prompt payments to the farmers for cocoa purchases.
According to COCOBOD, “The Minority made allusion to a supposed research by a group, the Centre for Socio-economic Studies (CSS), which claimed COCOBOD had failed to allocate funds to PBC and other LBCs.”
It added that “according to the CSS, it got to know this through several calls from cocoa farmers, as well as its own investigations.
“We categorically deny any such claims as wholly untrue and therefore it cannot be one that was arrived at through meticulous investigation.”
Funds Made Available
COCOBOD disclosed that funds had been made available to all qualified LBCs, which provided bank guarantees.
It said: “COCOBOD’s policy of protecting public funds by advancing seed funds against bank valid guarantees remains unchanged and will continue to be in force.”
The company said that PBC, which is the only state-owned LBC, was allocated the biggest seed fund in excess of GH¢390 million.
“In addition, PBC received an amount of GH¢121 million for payment of cocoa delivered within October/November this year.
“The released amount is far in excess of what is required by PBC for their cocoa purchases within the period,” COCOBOD said.
COCOBOD observed that some LBCs had not been able to pay cocoa farmers due to internal challenges even though they had received funds from the Board.
“We are engaging all such LBCs to ensure that they immediately get their challenges resolved and offer prompt payment to the farmers to avoid the transfer of their organisational challenges to the farmers who have no hand in creating the problems they face.”