Government, COCOBOD unable to account for US$1.3 billion syndicated loan – Akandoh claims

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Thu, 10 Mar 2022 Source: 3news.com

The Member of Parliament for Juaboso, Kwabena Mintah Akandoh has accused the government and the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) of not being able to account for the $1.3billion cocoa syndicated loan.

He said no tangible explanation has been given when asked about the whereabouts of the funds.

In 2019, a consortium of local and international banks signed an agreement to lend $1.3 billion to the COCOBOD to be used to purchase cocoa beans from farmers for the 2020/21 crop season.

The loan was expected to be used to purchase about 900,000 tonnes of cocoa beans in the next cocoa season.

The Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo, signed on behalf of the board, while a representative of the participating banks signed on behalf of the respective firms.

The signing was witnessed by the then Board Chairman of COCOBOD, Mr. Hackman Owusu-Agyemang; the then Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Finance, Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah, and some management members of COCOBOD.

But Mr. Akandoh has told TV3’s Johnnie Hughes on the New Day show on Thursday, March 10, 2022, that the cocoa sector is struggling financially despite the $1.3 billion syndicated loan.

He said “I was born by a farmer, into a farming community.

“My constituency is the highest production of cocoa in the whole country. Juaboso constituency is predominantly cocoa farmers but unfortunately, the cocoa sector is dying.

“If you look at what is happening in the cocoa sector, for now in the 2020-2021 crop year, we targeted about 800,000 metric tonnes and now we are somewhere around 400,000 metrics.

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

“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.

“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."

Source: 3news.com
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