Economist and fiscal policy expert, Dr Alex Ampaabeng, has raised alarm over the significant operational costs weighing down COCOBOD. Dr Ampaabeng attributes the regulator’s inability to turn a profit over the years to its hefty operational expenditures.
During a recent discussion on NorvanReports’ Twitter Space Conversation titled “DDEP 2 and Its Impact on the Cocoa Industry – How do we fund the bills,” Dr Ampaabeng shed light on the root causes of COCOBOD’s financial struggles.
The economist emphasized that COCOBOD’s substantial operational costs are primarily the result of its extensive workforce and quasi-fiscal obligations imposed upon it by the government, such as road construction and fertilizer distribution.
According to Dr Ampaabeng, the regulator witnessed a staggering influx of 2,300 new employees in a single year, spanning from 2019 to 2020, driving the total staff count to exceed 10,000 individuals. This surge in personnel coincided with a sharp rise in staff costs, soaring from GHS 783 million in 2019 to over GHS 1.1 billion in 2020.
Dr Ampaabeng pointedly questioned the feasibility of such a substantial increase in costs within a year, suggesting a possible influence of the electoral cycle.
“In just one year which is from 2019 to 2020, 2,300 individuals where employed at COCOBOD and the staff costs of the company rose from GHS 783m to over GHS 1.1bn. How is this possible, was it because it was an election year,” he quipped.
He underscored the urgent need for comprehensive reforms within COCOBOD to restore profitability, including the privatization of the company. The economist proposed that the government should retain no more than a 15% stake in COCOBOD.
The profitability challenges faced by COCOBOD have highlighted the importance of implementing substantial structural changes within the organization. Dr Ampaabeng’s call for privatization reflects the need for a fundamental restructuring that will enable COCOBOD to thrive and operate more effectively.
As Ghana seeks to secure sustainable financing for its cocoa industry, it remains crucial for policymakers to carefully consider the Dr Ampaabeng’s recommendations and chart a viable path forward for COCOBOD.