By Patrick Biddah
The National Democratic Congress has exposed the current administration for giving $10 million to a private audit firm for investigating cocoa road projects that were awarded by the President John Dramani Mahama administration .
The private audit firm, has links with a member of the Council of State appointed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The $10 million according to the NDC, did not even yield to finding any appointee of the erstwhile Mahama administration or any contractor of any wrongdoing in view of the contracts awarded .
Addressing a press conference yesterday in Parliament, the Minority spokespersons on Agriculture, Mr Eric Opoku, indicated that the money paid to the alleged audit firm has been a waste.
The press conference wasin reaction to the challenge thrown by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who asked the NDC to name one policy intervention that saw to improving the production of cocoa during his tour of the western region this week.
According to the Minority, they will do everything possible to hold the Chief Executive officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board ,Mr Joseph Boahen, accountable if the very audit into the cocoa roads turns out to be a financial loss to the state.
The argument of the Minority is that audits are mandated to be done by the Auditor General .Paying a private audit firm to investigate the awarded cocoa roads obviously amounts to wasting money and not protecting the public purse as promised by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
In view of this, he said the issue falls in the mandate of the Office of The Special Prosecutor and will hope that he picks up the issue for investigation and possible prosecution.
Despite the claim of a suspected shady dealings in the award of the roads contracts for which the stoppage ordered, Mr Opoku noted that President Akufo-Addo, gave the go-ahead for the completion of the cocoa road project from Apedwa to Kyebi which is his hometown, revealing that it sparks of hypocrisy .
The Minority who were sure of their allegations noted that they will be compelled to provide the evidence should the government attempt any denial.
On the substantive subject of what single intervention the NDC administration did to improve cocoa production, Mr Opoku indicated that the NDC gave free distribution of cocoa seedlings to cocoa farmers by expanding the seedling nursery sites from 28 to 330 from 2014 to 2016.
“it has to be emphasized during the 2014/2015 cocoa season 50 million hybrid cocoa seedlings were raised and distributed free of charge to farmers .During the 2015/2016 cocoa season ,60 million hybrid cocoa seedlings were raised for free distribution “,he stressed.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if one does a simple arithmetic of these statistics,1200 seedlings is equivalent to One Hectare Of Cocoa Farm. Therefore, 60 million hybrid cocoa seedlings per year and is supposed to expand cocoa farms in Ghana significantly “,noted
Mr Opoku who spoke on a wide range of issues, also touched on the resource allocation to the disease and pest control of the cocoa sector.
In his explanation, he said the NDC allocated Ghc316millin for disease and pest control in the 2016/2017 crop season but the NPP reduced the allocation to Ghc198 million representing a percentage decrease of 21percent.
This he pointed out rather caused a decline in the cocoa production under the current administration.
In a sharp contrast, the ranking member also said instead of allocating more to the cocoa farmers the current administration is rather voting more on administrative expenses.
To cite an example, he said the NDC allocated Ghc363 million to the Ghana Cocoa Board headquarters in 2016/2017, but the NPP allocated Ghc537 million in the 2017/2018 and further increased it to Ghc568 million in 2018/2019.
This ,Mr Opoku explained shows that the NPP are voting more monies for administrative purposes at the expense of the cocoa farmers, when the NDC did the reverse by giving more money to the cocoa farmers in terms of interventions and not administrative purposes.
According to the Minority, the President’s utterances against the evidence, show that he was misled.