COCOBOD IN ARGUMENT OVER $1.3B LOAN DISBURSEMENT

A Ghanaian MP has accused the Ghana Cocoa regulator, COCOBOD, of being unable to fully account for a $1.3 billion syndicated loan signed in 2019.

Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, Member of Parliament for Juaboso, has questioned the whereabouts of the funds, saying that COCOBOD failed to provide any substantiation of its spending.

The money was secured to be used to purchase approximately 800,000 – 900,000 tonnes of cocoa from farmers, but Akandoh says, his constituency has seen no money.

Akandoh believes that COCOBOD is not being transparent on how the funds have been used. The loan amount was to cover an increase in production from around 800,000 tonnes, and would be in line with COCOBOD’s goal to increase yields of the crop through government and farmer cooperative measures.

The disheartening aspect is that they came to parliament to seek approval for the syndicated loan of around $1.3b, and we approved the money. We were targeting 800,000 metric tonnes, now we are somewhere around 400,000, yet we don’t have money to buy cocoa

wabena Mintah Akandoh

Akandoh asserts that the cocoa sector is struggling financially in ways that it shouldn’t be, considering the size of the loan, and has been unable to get an answer from the organisation.

Bartalks covered the story at the time, and noted at the end of the article, the CEO of COCOBOD stating. “as soon as money is received, cocoa farmers are assured of receiving physical cash at all COCOBOD contracted agents’ sales points, throughout the country, when the season is opened in October 2020.”

as soon as money is received, cocoa farmers are assured of receiving physical cash at all COCOBOD contracted agents’ sales points, throughout the country, when the season is opened in October 2020.

Clearly Mr Akandoh doesn’t believe that has happened.

The loan was provided by a group of International banks and, witnessed by the board Chairman of COCOBOD, Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, and members of COCOBOD management.

COCOBOD has refuted the claim with their own statement from their Public Affairs Department, claiming they have;

..met all its statutory requirements and agreements with its financial partners in accounting for the syndicated loan for the crop season, which closed in September 2021

COCOBOD Public Affairs Department

Interestingly, the statement, while directly referring to the claims made by Akandoh, remains light on the details of the spending, simply stating that the money, “has gone into financing the purchase of cocoa and other industry costs.”

Akandoh claims

We have asked several times where the money is, and we are not being given any tangible explanation…. If you go to my constituency, for example, as I speak to you, the farmers may have the cocoa beans, but they may not have access to money.

He continues;

This is the reality because COCOBOD is owing a lot of the cocoa buying companies. So there are a lot of challenges in the cocoa sector, as I speak to you now.

We are curious to see if COCOBOD are able to enlighten their own MP’s about how exactly these funds have been allocated, and whether they will be able to achieve their cocoa buying goals for the current season.

Photo by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade | Flickr

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