The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Produce Buying Company (PBC) Limited, Kofi Owusu Boateng, has accused the previous management of taking poor management decisions that have led to the dwindling fortunes of the company.
According to him, when he took over as CEO in 2017, the legacy debt of the company stood at about GH₵650 million and that, “and if you have this debt, no bank is prepared to give you money.”
He said in an interview on Accra-based Citi FM that, the company has “about GH₵185 million” locked up in savings and loans.
“We took other facilities from commercial banks and invested them in savings and loans… So at a point in time, PBC was paying about GHc200 million interest on loans we had collected all because of mismanagement and poor management decisions,” he said,
Mr. Boateng’s disclosure follows Tuesday’s protest by staff of the company who accused the current management of being incompetent.
According to them, the current financial state of the company made it difficult for them to pay suppliers as well as staff salaries.
The staff, who blamed Mr. Boateng and his deputies for the woes of the company, asserted that they did not have the required skills and experience to turn the fortunes of the company around.
Denying the accusations, Mr. Boateng said the company was not being mismanaged under his watch.
Admitting though that the company was not performing well, he said, PBC was spending GH₵15 million on servicing bank loans.
“The only means by which we drive growth is through funding… our core business is to buy the cocoa and if you don’t have that money, you can’t do anything.”
According to him, when he assumed office as CEO, he wrote to the Senior Minister requesting a forensic audit, which was eventually carried out and the report submitted to the Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO).
He said the report highlighted “mismanagement, misapplication of funds and some internal leakages in the company.”
“So the problem of PBC is not government’s making. It is self-inflicted. That was what I saw when I took over,” he said.
Also contributing to PBC’s struggles are what Mr. Boateng described as “unwarranted projects.”
One of these projects included a venture into hotel management.
“We entered into hospitality where we built the Golden Bean hotel and since we built the hotel, we have been running at a loss but we borrowed money to build that hotel. We took a short term facility to undertake a long term project,” he noted.
According to him, the initial budget for the hotel was GH₵10 million but the company ended up using GH₵42 million for the hotel “without the board’s approval”.
He said there are also lapses in PBC’s ventures into the shea nut industry, noting that the company bought machines meant for groundnut processing instead of she nut processing.
He revealed that that led to the initial $576,000 cost increasing to $1.6 million to address the mistake with the retooling of the old parts.
“We bought machines which instead of being for shea nuts, we bought groundnut machines and then we installed them… For three years they bought nuts, they became rotten and we had to write it off,” Mr. Boateng said.