The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee in parliament argues that President John Dramani Mahama and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) have turned a blind eye to Cocobod’s indiscriminate expenditure, which, he said, is not properly accounted for.
To him, this could lead to financial crisis at Cocobod and eventually force government to privatise the firm.
“The president does not care; if they do not take care, they will sell Cocobod like what they are doing to ECG (Electricity Company of Ghana). One day they will tell us that the management of Cocobod has failed and so IMF says some people should come and take over and privatise,” he told Prince Minkah on Class 91.3 FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Thursday June 2.
His concerns come in the wake of parliament’s approval of a GHS2-billion loan facility for Cocobod.
The money is to help Cocobod purchase cocoa beans from farmers for the 2016/2017 crop season.
The funds will be used to purchase some 900,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans. Cocobod said part of the money would be used to develop roads that traverse or lead to cocoa-growing areas as well as for other activities relating to the transportation of the raw material from the farms to various destinations.
During the debate over the issue on the floor of parliament on Wednesday June 1, the Minority criticised Cocobod for its huge expenditure over the years. They also questioned the ability of Cocobod to meet 900,000 metric tonnes target and the amount of the loan which they feel is one of the biggest over the years.
The Minority also raised red flags about various expenditures outlined in the document presented to the Finance Committee. Cocobod indicated that it would be paying $56,000 as legal fees to some lawyers representing the company in transactions but the house felt the amount was exorbitant.
Mr Agyemang-Manu said he did not understand why Cocobod would be dabbling in road construction, which is the duty of the Ministry of Roads and Highways.
He finds construction of such roads using government loans questionable. “It is a wrong strategy chosen by Cocobod and the implementation is very wrong. Cocoa roads have been done in the past with part of the profits declared by Cocobod. No government has gone to borrow and set aside $150 million to do roads”.
Even though he admitted to the importance of road construction in cocoa-growing areas, he was quick to add that Ghana “has a constitutional mandate for the Ministry of Roads and Highways to do roads. Small profits of Cocobod have been used to support government funds in some cases, not loans that we are going to pay for. Is it that the Cocobod Chief Executive calls friends and awards contracts to them without going through any tender? This issue has come to parliament and we are not getting proper answers. It is a huge problem,” he added.
Mr Agyemang-Manu said the electorate should “vote against the current government [in the Nov 7 polls to save Cocobod] because officials cannot be spending monies without accounting to us.”