Cassiel Ato Forson, the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament
The Minority in Parliament has warned of looming danger in the operations of COCOBOD due to a debt of some GHC 1.4 billion.
According to the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, although the cocoa season has not travelled the full haul yet, COCOBOD has incurred huge losses.
The concerns were raised during Parliament’s approval of a $1.3 billion loan facility for the purchase of cocoa for the 2018/2019 crop season.
COCOBOD is projecting production of some 900 tonnes this year, but Ato Forson argues that COCOBOD might soon be taken over by debt if care is not taken.
“In the crop season of 2017/2018, it was projected that COCOBOD was going to run at a loss of GHC 1.4 billion. As at 30th June, 2018, COCOBOD had incurred a loss of GHC 1.4 billion. This is the crop season starting from 2017 and ending in 2018, ” he said.
The Office Manager for the CEO of COCOBOD, Fiifi Boafo, however explained that the debt is due to the fall in cocoa prices globally and the debt the current management inherited from the previous administration.
“We have a challenge and the challenge is that if you look at the international price of cocoa, it dropped to about 1,800 from a figure of about 3,200. This makes it difficult for us to break even, looking at the price we give to farmers.
“Government holds a position that we should not reduce the farm gate price we give to the farmers because that will be a huge disincentive to cocoa farmers who per their income from the cocoa business are not breaking even.Yes, we are managing the situation, it is not a comfortable situation bearing in mind that there is a debt overhang that was inherited, but I do not think it is beyond management to handle that and management is dealing with it.”