The Minority in Parliament have accused government of diverting $650m of the US$1.3 billion cocoa syndicated loan into areas that will not benefit the cocoa farmer.
According to Cassiel Ato Forson ranking member, on the finance committee, the first tranche of the US$1.3 billion cocoa syndicated loan for the 2018/19 crop year has not been used for the intended purpose.
The first tranche of $650m cocoa loan syndication has been released and was received by the Bank of Ghana on the 6th October 2018.
“The Minority is however very disappointed that the funds have not been used for the intended purpose but rather diverted into areas that will not benefit the cocoa farmer in anyway. A statement issued by PBC Limited on the 22nd November 2018 indicated that about GH₵104m of cocoa taken-over receivables (CTORs) due LBCs has not been paid”he told B&FT in an interview.
Furthermore, he explained that as part of measures to ensure that Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) have adequate funds to promptly pay cocoa farmers, part of the first tranche of $650m of the US$1.3 billion facility was supposed to be used to finance the smooth operations of Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs), especially, Produce Buying Company (PBC). The rationale for this policy direction is to ensure that the ordinary cocoa farmer is paid on time.
He also added that recent findings from the work of the Center for Socioeconomic Studies (CSS) has revealed that COCOBOD has either refused, neglected or failed to allocate funds to the Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs), especially, Produce Buying Company (PBC) as mandated for cocoa purchases which has resulted in delayed payments to our hardworking cocoa farmers, hence undermining the well-being of the farmer.
The Minority has noted reports that the proceeds from the first tranche may be sitting in secured investments in a couple of Banks earning interest whilst the ordinary cocoa farmer is suffering. This would amount to a grievous misapplication of the funds and constitute an unacceptable breach of financial regulations.
Additionally, the minority is demanding that the Minister responsible for cocoa immediately end the misapplication of the syndicated loan and revert to the original purpose for its acquisition.
“The CEO of COCOBOD must also be compelled to do the right thing. All allocations due Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs), especially, Produce Buying Company (PBC), must be released as soon as possible to ensure that our loyal cocoa farmers are paid on time. The Minority in Parliament will not relent in our efforts in ensuring that the welfare of the cocoa farmer comes first” he concluded.