18
Sat, Nov

NDC BLOWS GHC5BN ON GHOST COCOA ROADS

Business & Economy

The Chief Executive Officer of the Cocoa Marketing Board, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has revealed that the previous Mahama-led National Democratic Congress administration awarded road contracts to the tune of GHC5.16 billion to party cronies, with some of contracts relating to roads that did not exist.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Cocoa Marketing Board, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, has revealed that the previous Mahama-led National Democratic Congress administration awarded road contracts to the tune of GHC5.16 billion to party cronies, with some of contracts relating to roads that did not exist.

 

“For the first time in the history of Ghana, the NDC had introduced ghost cocoa roads in Ghana,” Mr Boahen Aidoo stated yesterday at a press conference.

According to Mr Boahen Aidoo, his outfit inherited cocoa road debts to the tune of GHC3.52 billion upon assumption of office in 2017, out of which the total budgetary allocation of GHC1.64 billion was earmarked for the cocoa road projects between 2014/2015 and 2016/2017. The NDC government, he said, awarded contracts to the tune of GHC5.16 billion, above the budgeted figure by GHC3.52 billion.

 “It is worth nothing that this reckless commitment above the budgeted amount was questioned by the Public Procurement Authority in December 2016 when Cocobod needed to seek approval to award additional contracts and the authority inquired about the availability of budgetary provision to enable it approve the requested contracts awards,” the chief executive said.

According to him, the NDC government, at the time, justified the road contracts in a response to the PPA.

“This was at the time when the NDC had woefully lost the elections and was trying to acquire retrospective approvals for the contracts already awarded without initial approval,” Mr Boahen Aidoo stated.

The CEO revealed that it later turned out that the justification for all the awarded road contracts as having been part of the budgetary provision was a palpable lie communicated to the PPA in order to have the contracts receive approval.

It also came to the fore that, in an attempt to conceal the over-bloated cocoa road contracts, they decided to create a Trust as a separate vehicle to manage the cocoa road projects.

The Chief Executive mentioned that the Trust Deed was not registered even though it was said to have been inaugurated at the Ministry of Finance, adding, “the inauguration of the Trust was used as a charade to deceive Ghanaians.”

Mr Boahen Aidoo further mentioned that many of the cocoa roads for which contracts were awarded had been found to be non-existent or excessively over-bloated, as revealed by an interim audit conducted by technical consultants.

He added that under the cocoa road contracts, four-wheel drive vehicles were purchased by Cocobod for the contractors as part of the contract price.

“Currently, over 160 vehicles are with the contractors. To indicate the abuse, an eighteen kilometer road for example, was allocated six four-wheel vehicles for inspection by the NDC administration. I have initiated steps to retrieve the vehicles from the contractors,” he said.

Another area of the rots Cocobod uncovered was the trading options. According to Mr Boahen Aidoo, the numerous actions which led to losses in the era of Opuni Frimpong and the NDC included trading in options. He said this action led to the loss of US$750,000 in 2015/2016.

This trading, according to him, was executed by the then Marketing Manager of CMC and directly supervised by Dr Opuni, is a subject of investigation currently being undertaken by Cocobod.

He added that the price discounts, which were executed at the blind side of appropriate approval channels, resulted in the loss of US$12.2 million to Cocobod.

“Cocobod, has had to deal with all these losses from the 2016/2017 production tonnage, further explaining the co called excess production,” Boahen Aidoo said.

On advance receipt of proceeds against future production of Cocoa, the NDC sourced and received a total of US$320.70 million in addition to the US$1.7 billion syndicated loan funding received in outstanding commitments were carried forward into the following year 2015/2016.

Additional advances of US$178.70 million were received in 2015/2016 by the NDC administration for which no deliveries were made.

Again, under the NDC administration, Cocobod failed to pay for the annual syndicated funding in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 with cocoa deliveries as normally the case.

He said cocoa production declined as a result of the abandoned cocoa rehabilitation programme.

“Cocoa farms were neglected and budgeted production could not be achieved to meet repayment of contracted loans and advances with cocoa sales proceeds. These are indicative of the gross mismanagement with which the NDC handled the affairs of COCOBOD,” Mr Boahen Aidoo disclosed.

On the Free Fertilizer Programme, the Chief Executive said the administration had re-introduced the fertilizer subsidy programme with quality and high yielding fertilizers.

He chastised the NDC for introducing and distributing sub-standards insecticides and fungicides to farmers to spray their own farms.

He revealed that the NDC government secured an amount of US$1.8 billion for the 2016/2017 cocoa purchases, which was projected at 850,000 metric tonnes, adding that as of January 2017, the US$1.8 billion had been fully drawn and utilized when only 587,125 metric tonnes of cocoa had been purchased.

“The mystery surrounding the exhaustion of the US$1.8 billion is being investigated and the full facts will be made known to Ghanaians in due course. Peculiar to the loan utilization is the last draw-down of US$400, 00 million which was effected on December 20, 2016 at the time the NDC had woefully lost the December 2016 elections,” the CEO mentioned.

He assured the nation that despite the depleted state the NDC government left the organization, he and his managers were up to the task in solving the myriad of problems they inherited.

Follow Us