Collapsing PBC Pockets Staff Provident Fund

-80% of Staff Are NPP Loyalists

The Management of the crippled state-owned cocoa buying company, the Produce Buying Company (PBC), has resorted to pocketing the provident fund of its staff, Whatsup News has learnt.

Apparently, 80% of the staff at PBC reportedly belong to the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Whatsup News has intercepted a May 19, 2021 letter written by one Frederick Arkong to Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, complaining bitterly about the impending death of PBC and how most of the staff aligned to the governing party are in distress.

I am per this data also drawing your office attention to the fact that we have to save this company of which over 80% of its staff being NPP loyalists so that we can all help in breaking the 8 years rule that we all envisage,” Mr. Arkong wrote in the three-page letter to the Vice President.

He went on to do a detailed analysis of how PBC’s market share in the cocoa buying industry in Ghana has dropped drastically from over 30% and a buying capacity of 250,000 metric tonnes in 2016 to less than 13% with a buying capacity of 96,000 metric tonnes as at the main buying season in 2021.

Whistleblowers from the company tell Whatsup News that the management of the company has only paid part of the provident fund of staff even though that fund is not supposed to be withheld and must be paid to fund managers along with salaries.

“A request was made by Professional and Management Staff Union (PMSU) and the Local Union for the payment of 100% of all PF deductions to staff (i.e. PF 1 and 2). In October 2020 only PF 2 deductions were paid to staff with a promise to pay PF 1 at a later date. The current position is that Management remains committed to paying PF 1 in the course of the 2020/2021 Season, but could not indicate the exact date due to the current financial challenges of the company,” a statement from the whistleblower read.

Aside from this, most Unions and Association Dues, as well as personal investment/insurance deductions, have not been paid since November, 2018, while the management has once again refused to sign the mandatory Collective Agreement for the period; January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2020.

A recent piece of information from the Chairman of the local union of PBC claims the withheld provident fund had been paid, but the staff say the reality is far from that.

Basically, the PBC is only scraping by hanging on its last breath as policy failures by the Akiufo Addo administration has allowed an invasion of the cocoa buying sector by foreign firms who have practically taken over the market.

The workers are reportedly convinced that the gradual takeover of PBC’s market share by foreign cocoa purchasing companies threatens their job security. The foreign Licensed Buying Companies (LBCs) have used controversial trade practices to overwhelm local LBCs, including PBC, Whatsup News can confirm.

Foreign firms are said to be buying cheaper cocoa beans and paying more to farmers (about GHC 550 per tonnes), while PBC and other local buyers are focused on Premium cocoa beans and are paying farmers approximately GHC 470 per tonne.

Recent data from the COCOBOD indicates that PBC’s market share in cocoa has been lost to companies and their local subsidiaries like Amajaro, Olam, Nyonkopa, UNICOM, among others. These foreign companies have systematically taken over the business from local.

The regulator of the cocoa sector, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) had reportedly looked on unconcerned as the foreign companies unleash their onslaught on local operators.

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