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The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Opuni yesterday incurred the wrath of members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament when he said that he could not attend upon the hearing of the committee because he was going to observe the 40-day celebration of the death of his mother.
New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Atwima Mponua, Isaac Asiamah and MP for Bosomtwe, Simon Osei-Mensah both members of the committee were not happy that the CEO of COCOBOD could turn down invitation of parliament with such an excuse adding that the CEO could not even officially write to the committee to seek permission but the chairman of the committee, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu came to the CEO’s defence saying that the CEO had called him to plead and seek for permission to enable him attend his mother’s 40-day celebration which in the Akan tradition was very important.
The deputy CEO in charge of finance, Mariam Kwabi who led the COCOBOD team to appear before the committee had a tough time explaining to the committee the registered fixed assets of COCOBOD as she was giving conflicting reports on the fixed asset register which the Auditor-General’s report said had not been updated.
The NPP MP for Bunkpurugu, Solomon Boar and a member of the committee realised that COCOBOD had expended GH¢18 million on investment and loans after making further probing on the report.
He wanted to find out the type of investment made with the GH¢18 million and the loans that also form part of the money but the officials of COCOBOD could not give concrete answers with the deputy CEO pleading for time to enable them provide the details of such expenditure.
The committee members therefore came to the conclusion that officials of COCOBOD did not also prepare very well for interrogation at PAC and therefore asked them to leave to go and prepare very well and come back to answer properly to queries raised in the Auditor-General’s report.
The committee asked that on their next appearance they should bring the CEO himself to help in responding to the queries.
Officials of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) led by the Director-General, Ernest Thompson also appeared before the committee to answer to queries raised against the Trust.
On a question by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Keta, Richard Quashigah who is a member of the committee on why the SSNIT can decide to give loans to some corporate institutions and companies without doing proper assessment of their collateral, the Director-General said they do proper assessment and that the loans are paid back with interest.