The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) consults the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) on all procurement of agrochemicals – fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides and fungicides – whether the agrochemicals will be acquired through open competitive bidding, restricted competitive bidding or sole-sourcing, says the former COCOBOD Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Agronomy and Quality Control from 2017 to 2018, Dr Yaw Adu-Ampomah.
He said this while answering questions under cross-examination from, Mr Samuel Cudjoe, the lawyer for Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, at an Accra High Court today, 2 July 2019.
He explained that at different times the management of COCOBOD may choose any of the three procurement options based on a number of considerations. Discussions are then held, or correspondence exchanged with the PPA before their approval is finally sought for the procurement of items.
In some instances, he said, advertisements are placed in the newspapers and at other times due to the peculiar nature of the agrochemicals, no public advertisements are done. ”However, in general terms, you are supposed to do so but sometimes when it is explained to the PPA it could be allowed without placing adverts.”
The considerations that inform the use of one type of procurement method or the other include recommendations from the scientists and experts at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG); the capacity for various companies to supply the agrochemicals at the right quality, in large enough volumes and in a timely fashion; the impact of the agrochemical in question on the environment; farmer preferences among others.
Dr Adu-Ampomah further asserted that all procurements involving agrochemicals during his first or second time at COCOBOD were done with the advice of PPA. Procurement processes are initiated with discussions and the advice of the PPA. “We would discuss the issues back and forth,” he said, because they have to be convinced of what we are doing. Their approval is critical to our procurement.
Dr Adu-Ampomah is the third witness for the state in the case against Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, a former Chief Executive COCOBOD and Mr Seidu Agongo, the CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited. His statements were all in response to questions posed by Mr Samuel Cudjoe, who has been focused on the procurement practices at COCOBOD; with an apparent aim to prove that the company routinely engages in sole-sourcing for all procurements.
Dr Adu-Ampomah in all his responses has insisted on the opposite. Which is to say that, COCOBOD does not engage in sole-sourcing as its default procurement option. All options are depending on the prevailing circumstance.
Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni and Mr Seidu Agongo are alleged to have engaged in acts that incurred a financial loss of GH¢271.3m to the state, in a series of fertiliser deals. The charges brought against them by the Attorney General also include defrauding by false pretences, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and acting in contravention of the Public Procurement Act.