Management of the Cocoa Processing Company (CPC) has admitted to Citi Business News it is underutilizing the facility.
According to the company, its current production levels of about 36,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans is far below its installed capacity of about 65,000 metric tonnes.
Some concerned workers early this week told Citi Business News of mass resignations at the CPC following a decline in its production levels. The workers argued among other things the excessive delays in the payment of salaries and huge debts owed suppliers of cocoa beans.
Though the Public Relations Manager Ekow Rhule in a reaction acknowledged that the company is not processing raw cocoa beans, he maintains that processing liquor from other companies has enabled the CPC to meet some of its administrative expenditure. “Meeting targets means that we are doing about 35,000 to 36000 metric tonnes a year of cocoa beans in a year.
We are a company set up to do so many things with cocoa; we have the capacity to start processing from raw cocoa beans, process liquor into butter, cake or powder.
Now our emphasis is on processing liquor into butter into other products from cocoa. So we are not talking about processing right from raw cocoa beans,” he explained.
Workers not resigning en masse
Commenting on the mass exit of workers over the non-performance of the company, however, Mr. Rhule explained that the company has since 2006, maintained a staff strength of not more than 260. According to him, a major restructuring exercise carried out in 2006 led to the huge decline in the staff strength of the company.
“It is true that we are having some resignations but it is not a mass one as is being reported… we have had one or two people resigning. At now we have had no more than six resignations,” Ekow Rhule stated. He added, “We cut down the number because things are changing; technology is improving, formerly we had ten people tendering one machine but now we have fewer people because there are modern machines.”
Salaries are being paid
The workers have complained about the excessive delays in the payment of salaries. Some of them who spoke to Citi Business News indicated that salaries are delayed well into the half month of succeeding months after their salaries are due for payment. But the CPC is equally challenged as it owes suppliers of cocoa beans.
The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for instance is owed about 100,000 dollars. Responding rather defensively, Mr. Rhule attributed the delays to the prolonged time it takes for the company to retrieve monies from clients they supply with products.
“I will be worried if they are not being paid at all but as it is now, they are being paid except that it delays and it is not our doing. At the end of the month we may not be ready or collected our proceeds, we process and sell so when we process, sell and get our revenue that’s when we pay,” he stated.
Meanwhile, negotiations with workers for improved conditions of work which were supposed to be concluded early this year, are yet to take place.