15 Mar

Ghana Cocoa Board Former CEO Charged for Causing Losses to State

The former chief executive officer of Ghana Cocoa Board, Stephen Opuni, has been charged for causing financial losses to the state during his tenure as head of the regulator, according to a justice ministry official.

The charges against Opuni, who was fired by President Nana Akufo-Addo in January 2017, were laid Wednesday at the High Court in Accra, the capital, Joseph Addo, a spokesman for the office of the attorney-general and the justice ministry, said by phone.

Several calls for comment to the mobile phone of Opuni didn’t go through.

Opuni allegedly agreed deals of 217 million cedis ($50 million) for the delivery of fertilizers from 2014 to 2016 with suppliers which he knew wouldn’t have been able to fulfill their contracts, Accra-based broadcaster Joy FM reported on its website, citing court papers that were signed by Chief State Attorney Evelyn Keelson on March 12.

Opuni also allegedly took an illicit payment of 25,000 cedis from one of the suppliers in October 2014, Joy FM reported.

Justice authorities brought the charges “because they believed there were infractions in the award of contracts during Opuni’s tenure,” Fiifi Boafo, a special assistant to current Ghana Cocoa Board CEO Joseph Boahen Aidoo, said in a broadcast on Citi FM.

The charges follow as the year-old administration of Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party pledged to crack down on graft and hold public officials to account for the management of state funds during their tenure.

Opuni was appointed in 2013 by former President John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress.

The NDC said Wednesday that the charges against Opuni were made up, according to Joy FM. Ghana is the world’s biggest cocoa producer after neighboring Ivory Coast.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-14/ghana-cocoa-board-former-ceo-charged-for-causing-losses-to-state

23 Feb

Ghana Risks the Anger of 800,000 Cocoa Farmers

The government of President Nana Akufo-Addo in Ghana will struggle to sidestep one of its most difficult decisions since coming to power a year ago: telling a crucial constituency to accept a pay cut.

The New Patriotic Party-led government has little choice but to end subsidies for its 800,000 farmers that will likely cost almost $450 million this season.

Ghana Cocoa Board, the industry regulator in the world’s second-biggest producer, is running out of cash with few options for funding left other than to sell short-term debt to local investors at rates as high as 22 percent.

Justifying a decision to end the support will be tricky. The NPP swept to power in the December 2016 polls after pledging to invest in farms and increase prices.

Justifying a decision to end the support will be tricky. The NPP swept to power in the December 2016 polls after pledging to invest in farms and increase prices.

Farmers are unimpressed with the prospect of the government going back on its promises even though international prices have slumped by more than a third since the middle of 2016.

“If the government cannot afford to pay for its own loose talking, then it must borrow,” said Michael Acheampong, 37, a cocoa farmer in Kwabeng, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northwest of the capital, Accra. “To announce a cut after promising to help us is a sacrilegious crime. We will not accept that.”

Ghana has little room to support prices even if rising output from new oil fields are supporting an economic revival.

While the World Bank forecasts that the economy will expand by 8.3 percent in 2018, the fastest rate in Africa, the country remains bound by conditions for disciplined spending that are attached to an almost $1 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund, agreed to in April 2015.

Ghana Cocoa Board is losing the equivalent of about $600 for every metric ton of the 850,000 tons that it plans to purchase this season until September, the regulator said earlier this month.

To read the full article, click here.