21 February 2013

Ghana: BIA Asks Gov to Probe COCOBOD

The Bureau for Internal Affairs (BIA), a centre for information gathering on public concerns, has called on the government to investigate alleged corrupt practices involving the operations of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).

Investigations by BIA unveiled the alleged irregularities at two holding cocoa bulk sheds of COCOBOD, which stores raw beans in Takoradi.

A statement issued by Mr. Godfred Nkrumah, Coordinating Director of the Bureau, said there had been a series of report of thousands of bag of cocoa going missing in the storage facilities being managed by Unicontrol Commodities, a company from The Netherlands.

The company has been recording losses of beans in its custody since 2000 without any formal investigations from its management.

Unicontrol, which started operations in the country under the Free Zone Enclave, has not been asked by the management to pay for the losses, they claim to record after shipment, although the company rent its sheds, based on the quantity of cocoa they hold at any point in time.

BIA claimed that the management arbitrarily abrogated a contract with the State Insurance Company, the main insurer of Ghana cocoa exports, and brought on board foreign insurance companies.

BIA also alleged that COCOBOD was involved in the improper award of contracts and purchasing, adding that investigations showed that the estimated cost of the rehabilitation of the official residence of the Managing Director was unilaterally changed from GH¢90,000 to GH¢270,000, after the contract had been bid for.

Personnel at the London office of COCOBOD, who go on postings for four years, are also paid outrageous sums of money, which are not backed by any policy.

The Bureau claimed that more than 60,000 bags of cocoa beans delivered to local industries cannot be accounted for.

The statement noted that the administrative lapses in COCOBOD were artificially created to siphon state funds into individual pockets.

Unfortunately, workers who try to blow the whistle are being intimated through unfair transfers, denial of promotions, and threats of dismissal.

The BIA is, therefore, calling on President John Dramani Mahama to set up a probe to unravel the irregularities.

The Bureau is aimed at bridging the communication gap between the public and the authorities on issues negatively affecting the nation.

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