Tuesday, 23 July

Dr. Opuni dares Boahen Aidoo to produce audited report to show there was no money in COCOBOD in 2017

General News
Boahen Adu and Dr Stephen Opuni

The former Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni has flatly dismissed claims by his successor, Joseph Boahen Aidoo who alleged that COCOBOD was facing significant financial challenges when the latter assumed office in January 2017.

 

Dr. Opuni has therefore challenged Mr. Boahen Aidoo to publish the audited financial report of COCOBOD by way of documentary evidence that there was no money, to enable the public to ascertain the true state of affairs at COCOBOD at the time.

“It is trite knowledge that before you secure any loan, you need to show your audited financial statement, therefore if Joseph Boahen Aidoo wants Ghanaians to know that he inherited a broke institution, he should make COCOBOD’s audited financial statement for 2016/2017 financial year public to back his claims,” Dr. Stephen Opuni said on Thursday, June 13, 2024. Mr. Boahen Aidoo, in an interview with Accra-based Joy FM on June 12, 2024 claimed that “They bought about 600,000 metric tonnes before we came in. With cocoa, the peak harvest period is October, November, December, and January. So within the first quarter of the season, from October to December 2016, the previous administration bought over 600,000 metric tonnes. When we assumed office, there was no money, meanwhile, we had to buy cocoa till the end of the season from January to September (2017)”.

In an interview with Dr. Stephen Opuni on June 13, 2024, the former COCOBOD Chief Executive exposed Mr. Boahen Aidoo using his own words.

Although COCOBOD secured 1.8 billion dollars syndicated loan, it was used to take care of COCOBOD’s activities from October 2016 to September 2017 cocoa crop season, part of it Joseph Boahen Aidoo conceded was used to purchase the over 600,000 metric tonnes.

According to Dr. Opuni, COCOBOD sold forward a little over 600,000 tonnes of cocoa at a value of 2,993.60 dollars per tonne, which was used as a collateral to secure the 1.8 billion dollars syndicated loan from banks in Europe and other parts of the world.

 “Just multiple USD 2,993.60 by the over 600,000 stated by Mr. Boahen Aidoo and you would come to the realization that as at January 2017 COCOBOD had already bought enough cocoa from our cocoa farmers to pay off the 1.8 billion dollars syndicated loan COCOBOD secured,” Dr. Opuni said.

Available records show that, even after buying the over 600,000 metric tonnes between October and December 2016 as mentioned by Boahen Aidoo, as at January 2017, License Buying Companies (LBCs) still had some of the monies COCOBOD had advanced to them, which they were expected to use to buy more cocoa for Ghana Cocoa Board.

According to Dr. Opuni during his tenure as Chief Executive at COCOBOD, from January 2014 to early January 2017, COCOBOD secured syndicated loans on three occasions (2014/2015,  2015/2016, 2016/2017) at a cost of about 1.5% (one and a half percent) for each loan.

There was always the option to go back to the syndicated banks for additional loan of about 200 million US dollars if COCOBOD realized that there was more cocoa to be bought.

This, according to Dr. Opuni, was more prudent to take a loan at a cost of about 1.5% instead of going for a loan from the local banks at a cost of 30 percent or more.  “It is therefore strange that the current management of COCOBOD under Boahen Aidoo, instead of taking advantage of the 200 million dollars option from the syndicated loan banks, they always resort to the local banks and the Central Bank. This is nothing short of gross financial mismanagement,” he asserted.

Dr. Opuni said on authority, “that from January 2014 to early January 2017, COCOBOD after taking the syndication loan, never took loans from the Central Bank/ local banks to undertake any COCOBOD activity.”

According to sources at COCOBOD, the Boahen Aidoo-led administration has been taking loans from the Central Bank/local banks after securing syndication loans. Apart from 2017, when according to Boahen Aidoo, they took 2 billion Ghana Cedis loan from the Central Bank, they continued to take more loans from the local banks as well as the Central Bank in subsequent years – 2019/2020, 2020/2021 and 2023/2024 at a higher cost of about 30 percent after securing the syndicated loans. No wonder COCOBOD’s indebtedness to the local banks in Ghana is about 20 billion Ghana Cedis, Dr Opuni observed.

For instance, whilst available records show that under Dr. Opuni, COCOBOD was taking a syndication loan at 1.5% (one and a half percent), the current COCOBOD management under Boahen Aidoo took a syndicated loan of 800 million dollars in 2013/2024 at 8 percent, showing lack of confidence in COCOBOD’s financial credibility.

According to Reuters new agency, COCOBOD is unable to deliver 350,000 tonnes of cocoa to their clients abroad who already have contracts with COCOBOD. According to reliable sources, these cocoa contracts were done by COCOBOD and those clients at USD2,600 per tonne. Meanwhile, the current world price of cocoa is above USD 9,000 per tonne. This means in the future, if COCOBOD is to deliver the 350,000 tones to their clients, Ghana is going to lose about USD 6000 or more per each tonne of cocoa. Ghana therefore stands to lose about USD2 billion because COCOBOD is unable to deliver its current contracts of about 350,000 metric tonnes of cocoa.

Meanwhile, cocoa production under the management of Joseph Boahen Aidoo continues to decline.

A global data and business intelligence platform, Statista gives the breakdown of cocoa production in Ghana in metric tonnes from 2014 to 2024 as follows:

Cocoa Crop Year Production in Metric Tonnes 2013/2014 896,220 2014/2015 740,254 2015/2016 778,044 2016/2017 969,511 2017/2018 904,739 2018/2019 811,747 2019/2020 766,977 2020/2021 1,047,000 2021/2022 683,000 2022/2023 654,000 2023/2024 Projected at 550,000

COCOBOD’s annual report and financial statements presented to Parliament show that COCOBOD is in dire financial crisis, which industry watchers have attributed to mismanagement.

Cocoa Crop Year Loss in Ghana Cedis 2016/2017 395 million 2017/2018 78.2 million 2018/2019 320.6 million 2019/2020 426 million 2020/2021 2.4 billion 2021/2022 3.3 billion 2022/2023 4.2 billion 2023/2024 Projected 2.6 billion

Source: newstitbits.com