The Ranking Member on the Food, Agriculture, and Cocoa Affairs Committee of Parliament, Eric Opoku, is calling for clear terms of repayment of monies borrowed by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) from its traders.
The company, under a pre-financing agreement, has secured about $200 million from cocoa traders to fund bean purchases. The company is yet to conclude arrangements for a Cocoa syndicated loan from international financial institutions amidst the economic situation and COCOBOD’s restructuring programme.
In an interview with Citi News, Mr. Opoku said this mechanism is unfit for COCOBOD as it struggles to make the needed profit.
“For six continuous years, COCOBOD has been making losses. How can they set aside money to finance their activities? Don’t forget that the loan that we take, we don’t use all the money to buy cocoa. Part of it is used to pay their salary, part of it is used to pay their administrative cost.”
“And the Minister for Finance told us that they are using 53% of the total proceeds from cocoa as administrative costs and just something above 40% goes to the farmers. So you can imagine what is happening. All mismanagement and COCOBOD is now undischarged, insolvent,” he said.
Mr. Opoku added that COCOBOD failed to turn to Parliament for assistance over its failure to account for GH¢1.3 billion approved for the purchase of cocoa beans in 2020.
“What we do is that before we approve the new facility, they have to convince us as to how they used the previous one. And probably, it is one of the reasons they haven’t been able to bring the facility to us, why they are. We’ve heard of the GH¢800 million arrangements, but it hasn’t come to parliament yet.”
“When it comes, they must be answerable for how they utilized the first facility they took, the GH¢1.3 billion. And if we are not convinced that that money was used in the best interest of our cocoa farmers and that matter Ghanaians, they will have difficulty getting approval for this one,” he said.