The President of the Concerned Cocoa Farmers Association, Nana Boateng Bonsu, has raised questions about the government’s decision to allow the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to oversee the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
According to him, Mr Ofori-Atta has under-performed as Finance Minister thus, is not the suitable person to manage the financial expenditure of Cocobod.
“What is the Finance Minister coming to do? At the end of the day, we gave you the whole country to take care of it, and what happened?” he quizzed.
Mr Bonsu’s statement comes after Mr Ofori-Atta revealed last week that a monitoring desk by his outfit and the Bank of Ghana will be established at Cocobod to ensure discipline in its expenditure.
This is due to the Board’s huge annual losses that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has identified as a major threat to the sector and government’s fiscal efforts.
“Both the Governor of the Central Bank and the Minister of Finance – myself, will now be on the Board and we also setting up a desk at the Finance Ministry that will interact with the finance division of COCOBOD to make sure the issues of fertilizers, cocoa road are all brought into an ambit of discipline. Those begin to tell you how we are getting into the issue of expenditure,” Mr Ofori-Atta told JoyNews.
However, in an interview on JoyNews’ PM Express, the President of the Farmer’s Association did not embrace the move.
According to him, the government is only playing with the intelligence of the farmers.
“Cocobod is a collapsed institution. We know it, we foresaw it and said it several times but they never listened. So for this situation, we don’t need Ken Ofori-Atta and his people [at Cocobod]. What are they coming to do?
“If they had something better to offer by now Ghana’s economy would have shot up. They have nothing to offer. They should forget about Ken Ofori-Atta and his people” he said.
The cocoa farmer further called for the dissolution of Cocobod. He believes the removal of the state-institution mandated to supervise the production and export of cocoa in the country, will set cocoa farmers free.
“Right now, a lot of farmers are cutting down their cocoa trees and shifting to different crops all because they’ve realised that they have been enslaved for so many years.
“Cocobod has put wax in their ears and are not listening to the farmers. There’s nothing happening on the ground. There is no dialogue between farmers and Cocobod. Anything that comes to them [Cocobod] and they think it is beneficial to them or us, they just implement. There is nothing like an engagement or ‘let’s sit down with the farmers since they are those on the ground and see what they want’,” he said.