Minority: Money for Cocoa Farmers Diverted into Interest-Earning Ventures

The Minority in Parliament is raising red flags about diversion of the first tranche of the US$1.3 billion cocoa syndicated loan for the 2018/2019 crop year into areas not beneficial to the cocoa farmer in anyway.
According to the Minority, it has information proceeds from the first tranche, an amount US$650 million, has been lodged in secured investments in some banks to earn interest instead of paying the cocoa farmer.
In a release signed by the Ranking Member of the Finance Committee, the Hon. Cassiel Ato Forson, the Minority stressed that all allocations due Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs), especially the Produce Buying Company (PBC) be released immediately to ensure the hardworking cocoa farmers are paid on time.
Hon Ato Forson pointed out the first tranche of the $650 million cocoa syndication has been released and was received by the Bank of Ghana on 6th October, 2018.
He noted that as part of measures to ensure LBCs have adequate funds to promptly pay cocoa farmers, part of the first tranche was supposed to be used to finance the smooth operations the LBCs but especially the PBC.
The rationale behind this policy direction, he said, is to ensure the ordinary cocoa farmer is paid on time.
“The funds have not been used for the intended purpose but rather diverted into areas that will not benefit the cocoa farmer in anyway,” he said.
According to him, COCOBOD has refused, neglected or failed to allocate funds to the LBCs and the PBC as mandated for purchases, which has led to delays in payments to cocoa farmers thereby undermining their wellbeing.
He warned that investing the money rather than paying the farmers amounts to grievous misapplication of the funds and constitutes unacceptable breath of financial regulations.
The Minister responsible for cocoa, he said, must immediately end this misapplication of the syndicated cocoa loan and revert to the original purpose for its acquisition and warned that the Minority will not spare any effort to ensure the interest and welfare of the cocoa farmer is served first.

By Osumau Al-Hassan/uthmanhass@gmail.com 

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