COCOBOD Syndicated Loan In Trouble

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…Cedi To Fall Further; As New Board Seeks Smaller Amount

The Ghana Cocoa Board, is getting less ambitious under the new management headed by its new boss, Joseph Boahen Aidoo.

The company which under the previous administration used to procure US$2 billion every cocoa purchase season and settles the loans in record time, says it is now going to seek smaller amount for the 2017/18 season.

But The Herald is informed that, the sacking of the eleven top management level staff of COCOBOD, is badly affecting the institution, especially the settlement of the US$1.8 billion syndicated loan and arrangements for the 2017/18 purchase season.

Insiders say, this development could also lead to the continuous depreciation of the cedi against the dollar.

The new Chief Executive of Cocobod, disclosed talks with international banks for a syndicated loan to cover cocoa purchases in the 2017/18 season.

Mr. Aidoo, recently told the international news agency; Reuters based in London, that his first syndicated loan would be less than the current 2016/17 crop season’s US$1.8 billion procured under his immediate predecessor, Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, with an August 2017 deadline for settlement.

“The figure depends on the crop forecast, the cedi exchange rate and the world market price of cocoa. But I don’t think we’d need $1.8 billion this year.

The price of cocoa is now falling, so we’d look at all that,” Joseph Boahen Aidoo told Reuters.

The eleven who were asked to proceed on leave by government on Monday, January 30, 2017. They had been part of the previous loan negotiations.

They occupied positions, including the Deputy Chief Executive – Agronomy and Quality Control, Deputy Chief Executive – Finance and Administration, Deputy Chief Executive -Operations, Director – Human Resource, Director Civil Works, Deputy Director Civil Works, Procurement Manager, Director of Estates and the Deputy Director Finance.

Three other top staff members of Cocoa Marketing Company (CMC); a subsidiary of COCOBOD, were also asked to proceed on leave. They include, CMC’s Managing Director, Deputy Managing Director and Deputy Director Finance.

Mr. Opuni’s tenure was has been acclaimed as one of the productive years in the critical sector; which generates revenue for the country and employs millions of Ghanaians.

Farms, have been expanded, new hybrid seedlings have been planted, fertilizers, insecticides and other incentives such as high bonuses were offered freely to farmers to spur them on to increase production in an era where Chinese involvement in Galamsey activities were taken most cocoa farms leading to a dwindling sector.

Indeed, last June, the Ghana COCOBOD under the leadership of Dr. Opuni in London, raised US$2 billion syndicated loan facility for the purchase of cocoa beans for the 2016/17 crop season – from October to September 2017.

At time, some analysts said, COCOBOD’s track record in the repayment of the syndicated loan facility since 1992, has been the major contributing factor for the favorable interest rate.

COCOBOD, got more than $2 billion dollars worth of bids from the banks, but agreed to take $1.8 billion.

COCOBOD, however, maintained that it could raise another US$200 million when the crop performs better and requires further funds.

The loan facility was expected to be paid back fully by in August, this year.

The deal was led by some eight banks like Deutsche Bank AG, Natixis, Nedbank of South Africa, Rabobank, Standard Chartered Bank, Societe Generale, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and DZ as co-arranger.

The funds was also to help improve infrastructure in some cocoa growing communities like the cocoa roads which aimed at opening up the remote cocoa areas to aid the carting of cocoa beans to buying centers .

The US$1.8 billion loan, also helps to improve the Central Bank’s international reserves to help stabilize the cedi.

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