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Opuni ‘Swindles’ Banks?
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Former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, has been accused of deliberately providing wrong cocoa production forecast to secure syndicated loans for the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 crop seasons.

Current CEO of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, who made the allegation while addressing the media on Wednesday in Accra in response to the call by the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament for increment in cocoa producer price domestically, said during the 2014/2015 crop season, the Research Department of COCOBOD declared a production forecast of 750,000 metric tonnes.

“Crop forecast and COCOBOD Research analysis had indicated a realistic production of 750,000 metric tonnes,” he said.

He, however, noted with dismay that the COCOBOD Research forecast was rejected by Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni, who was an appointee of the President.”

According to him, Dr Opuni went ahead and budgeted to achieve a production tonnage of 900,000 metric tonnes of cocoa in 2014/2015.

Mr Aidoo alleged that “Dr Opuni and his management team then used the conjured production of 900,000 tonnes to arrange a loan facility of $1.7 billion in the 2014/2015 season.”

He said “the same situation occurred in the 2015/2016 season with actual production of 778,000 tonnes achieved when a loan facility of $1.8 billion had been secured with a production forecast of 850,000 metric tonnes.”

As a result, the CEO noted, “COCOBOD had difficulty repaying the two facilities in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 seasons.”

According to him, “Part of the 2016/2017 production had to be applied to fulfill such sales contracts, explaining the utilization of the so-called excess production.”

COCOBOD annually goes for loans from a syndicate of banks overseas to pre-finance its cocoa production for a particular crop season.

It successfully signed the $1.8 billion loan agreement with 22 international banks to finance purchases of cocoa beans for the 2015/16 season on 17th September, 2015.
Source: Daily Guide

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