The Produce Buying Company, [PBC]; the largest purchaser of Ghana’s cocoa beans from farmers, is disputing claims by the Ghana Cocoa Board [COCOBOD] that it has released enough funds to them to purchase cocoa beans for the 2018/2019 crop season.
According to the PBC, the money released by COCOBOD is short of some 5,567 tons of cocoa beans which have been received by the Cocoa Marketing Company as at week 6 of the crop season which began in October 2018.
Explaining the challenge with why some cocoa farmers in some cocoa growing communities are yet to be paid for their cocoa beans, the Chief Executive Officer of the PBC Kofi Owusu Boateng, said in a statement dated November 22, 2018, that the PBC “secured a seed fund of Gh 390m from COCOBOD” but “has so far received Gh81m as Cocoa Taken-Over Receivables [CTORs] for the crop season”. [CTORs simply refer to monies paid by COCOBOD to an LBC after the cocoa beans the LBC purchased were accepted and certified of the quality and quantity by the Cocoa Marketing Company [CMC] at the Takoradi Port.
He said that Gh81m released by COCOBOD “has been used to purchase about 62,000 tons of cocoa. But “our purchases report for week 6 to COCOBOD shows that the PBC has purchased a total of 67,567 tons of cocoa, the difference [of 5,567 tons] which is yet to be paid for…As at today, PBC has submitted CTORs of Gh104m to COCOBOD which remain unpaid”.
This explanation by PBC of the deficit yet to be cleared, suggests a contradiction of the position by COCOBOD and that the “PBC has actually purchased more cocoa beans than the seed fund [of Gh81m] given by COCOBOD”.
Whilst the Gh104m debt and the remains of the initial secured seed monies [now at Gh 205m] are yet to be released by COCOBOD, Mr. Boateng is calling for calm on the part of cocoa farmers whilst “the PBC is working closely with our banks to secure additional bank guarantees to enable us access more funding from COCOBOD to enable PBC pay for all credited stocks from our loyal farmers”.
The PBC is also taking “this opportunity to assure [its] key stakeholders [farmers and banks] that despite the unfair and unethical competitive practices by some Licensed Buying Companies [LBCs], the company and other indigenous LBCs are frantically making arrangements to seek audience with the regulator to address these matters urgently”.
Minority wants COCOBOD CEO quizzed over ‘misuse’ of syndicated loan
Meanwhile, the Minority in Parliament wants the Agric Minister and Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, to be hauled before Parliament’s Finance Committee over alleged misapplication of portions of the cocoa syndicated loan.
“I’ve written a letter to the Finance Committee Chairman, Mark Assibey, for him to convey an emergency meeting by inviting the Minister responsible for cocoa and the CEO of Ghana COCOBOD to appear before the Finance Committee,” he said.
According to the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, they are reliably informed that the first tranche of the loan has been diverted into other accounts to accrue interests instead of being sent to the Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) for the purchase of cocoa beans.