Thursday, 18 April

Mahama's fund for cocoa farmers pension scheme was 419 - COCOBOD CEO


An alleged Cocoa Fund set up by former President John Mahama during his tenure of office to serve as a pension scheme for farmers in the sector was nonexistent, Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boahen Aidoo has said.

Apart from its non-existence, it also had no allocated fund, Mr Aidoo told Accra-based Asempa FM's Ekosii Sen programme recently.

It was a response to a claim by Asunafo South MP Eric Opoku during a cocoa farmers' conference in the Ahafo Region on Wednesday, 13 September 2023 that the Mahama administration set aside GHS28.9 million as seed money for the Cocoa Farmers’ Pension Scheme, for which the Akufo-Addo government is claiming credit.

Mr Opoku said: "The Mahama administration left GHS28.9 million as seed money for a cocoa farmer pension scheme before leaving office, but the current administration has misappropriated the money and continues to claim to have introduced the scheme".

In his rebuttal, however, Mr Aidoo said the fund was empty.

"There was no money in the Cocoa Farmers’ Pension Scheme as the NDC and former President Mahama claim", he told the programme, adding: "The amount was only stated in a ledger, but there was no real money".

"How come no farmer was engaged or heard about it?" he wondered, and threw a challenge to the biggest opposition party thus: "I dare the NDC to come out and tell us which bank they deposited the money to and the name of the fund".

Mr Aidoo said he found it puzzling that the fund found expression in the Auditor-General's report.

"The Auditor-General used a ledger from 2011, so, why is the NDC not mentioning Atta-Mills?" he questioned.

"We didn’t even know there was a ledger until it was discovered when the auditors came. So, there was no account", he insisted.

According to him, the Akufo-Addo government is now putting the scheme in place to cushion retired farmers.

"When I came, there was no database of farmers but we instituted the cocoa management system through which 790,000 farmers have been captured. Out of this number, 100,000 have been enrolled on the scheme and we hope to get everyone onboard by the end of the year", he noted.

"We also hope to have about GHS74 million cedis in it", Mr Aidoo added.