COCOBOD spends GH¢1.2 billion servicing NDC’s cocoa road contract bills

The present management of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has spent close to GH?1.2 billion, till date, as payments to contractors who were awarded road contracts, under the cocoa roads programme, by the company’s management under the previous National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

This is in sharp contrast to the allegations that this government’s period of suspension of cocoa road projects – a suspension which has since been lifted – was also characterised by the non-payment of amounts already owed to contractors.

According to Kwame Baffoe Abronye, the Bono Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), who made the disclosure about the payments at a press conference held today, 2 March, “It is false that contractors with genuine claims about their contracts issued by the previous government are not being paid”.

He provided a breakdown of amounts paid by the present management of COCOBOD during each cocoa season starting from 2016/2017 and it showed that, “GH?9,603,917.55 was paid to cocoa road contractors during the 2016/2017 cocoa season. GH?496,872,500.00 was then paid during the 2017/2018 cocoa season. During the 2018/2019 season, the amount went up to GH?550,983,450.00 and so far in the present 2019/2020 season, the paid amount stands at GH?123,639,516.”

This brings the total amount paid by this government for cocoa road contracts issued by the previous government to exactly GH?1,181,099,383.55.

Mr Abronye said, as Chairman of the NPP in one of the important cocoa-producing regions, the Bono Region, he was very troubled by the falsehoods currently being spread by former President John Dramani Mahama in his visits to cocoa communities as he tours that nation.

According to Mr Abronye, the former president is engaging in a “Trumpian style spreading of misinformation” in the cocoa communities. “This is particularly true of the statements he [Mahama] has made about the construction of cocoa roads and on which bases he has launched several attacks on the current government.”

The NPP Regional Chairman said, contrary to the view that the temporary suspension stopped absolutely all cocoa road projects, it was, in fact, the case that, the suspension which was imposed was not a blanket suspension on all the contracts, as such, several roads at different stages of construction were allowed to continue until completion in 2017 and thereafter.

In addition, work has also resumed on several cocoa road construction projects and progressing steadily after the temporary suspension, Mr Abronye said. He provided a list of some 40 roads, half of which were completed after 2017.

The current government suspended cocoa road projects for an audit to be conducted after anomalies which resulted in inflated costs of some of the contracts awarded by the previous government were detected. The suspension allowed for a re-scoping and proper alignment of funds to execute cocoa road projects. The government has since cancelled 24 contracts and lifted the suspension.

COCOBOD has also already announced the award of 43 new cocoa road contracts and is scheduled to add more. For the first time, an open competitive bidding process was used to choose suitable contractors. Management said it adopted this process to improve transparency and ensure value for money while doing away with the usual secrecy which provided opportunities to award contracts to unqualified persons.

Source:peacefmonline

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