You are here
TTABA owed $3 million
Established in 2006 by Government to accelerate national economic and social development through the sustainable expansion of the agribusiness sector, Trinidad and Tobago Agri-Business Association (TTABA) has been supplying products to private companies and State agencies without being paid.
According to its financial statement dated February 2012, which was leaked to the Sunday Guardian, TTABA was owed $3,033,198.59 million by a long list of debtors, some of whom had not cleared their bills in over two years. The statement also revealed that a large farm was also granted a $100,000 loan by TTABA.
In one instance, it showed that Nykosi Ltd, a customer of TTABA, had owed $335,901.80 over a 90-day period. But a source at TTABA said Nykosi Ltd had this outstanding bill for almost two years. Another customer listed only as a “pommecythere seedling farmer” had an unsettled bill of $522,675 for several months.
TTABA entered into a credit arrangement with companies when they should have really been focusing on research and developmental programmes, a source said. “They choose to give credit to customers and businesses whose owners have been evading payments month after month. So TTABA just have it on the book as monies outstanding,” a source said.
An extensive list compiled by TTABA named several businesses and government institutions that failed to pay them over a three-month period. TTABA has been receiving funding from the Government via approval from Cabinet since 2006 to carry out the National Agri-business Development Programme.
An article in last Sunday’s Guardian revealed that TTABA had incurred losses of $72.6 million between 2007 to June 2011. This was based on a report on the systems audit done by the Ministry of Finance Investments Division Central Audit Committee last November.
Some of the delinquent debtors include pharmacies, farmers, restaurants, supermarkets, caterers, churches, bakeries, hospitals, gas stations, members’ clubs, hotels, city corporations and a security firm. Under the headline “TTABA Aged Payables as at 29th February 2012,” the statement outlined vague and weak reasons for the failure of payments.
“Customer out of the country and will clear account on their return; Meeting to be held on March 13, 2012, with the driver and sales rep to conclude who is responsible for the payment; Driver visited customer for collection however, customer was unavailable; Driver to return next week; Statement sent to customer, awaiting payment; Customer said they will make a payment on next delivery; Liaising with driver for new contact information; Following up with sales team,” were some of the excuses given in the statement.
$257,000 in spoilage in one month
In the case of Nykosi Ltd, the pommecythere seedling farmer, and several other customers, no remarks were given for their outstanding bills. Only last month Agricultural Development Bank chairman Rudy Maharaj admitted that Nykosi’s Ltd in 2007 was granted a $5.3 million loan which accrued interest of $1,790,870.80 and late interest fees of $490,088.20.
So far, Nykosi Ltd has not made a payment to the ADB since the inception of the loan. However, TTABA’s statement indicated that some cheques were ready for collection. The statement further unearthed that the sales of all TTABA’s products had reduced to $.2 million due to a decrease in orders.
Under the headline “Management report Sales Analysis” it showed that the year-to-date sales was 20 per cent below budget. “Sales were $898,003 which is below budget by $401,997 and lower than last month’s,” the report stated. Fresh dasheen bush was listed as minus 176 per cent in gross profits.
The report showed that the total spoilage per product for February 2012 amounted to $257,526.77 which the board never got an explanation for. They are:
• Cassava $63,148.30
• Coconut water $14,934.71
• Dasheen bush bhagi $3,303.96
• Sweet potato $18,874.60
• Corn $40,440.20
• Plantain $116,631.50 and
• Eddoes $193.50
The statement also exposed the sale of several commodities to the company’s staff. It showed that 1,213 bags of grated cassava (5 lb bags) which cost $30,895.11 were sold for $21,869.50, resulting in a loss of $9,025.61. Also, 60 per cent of the cassava delivered to bakeries at the promotional price of $3 per pound should have fetched a selling price of $5 per pound.
In several instances it showed that spoilt and overripe produce had to be sold to staff. TTABA, the statement noted, offered overripe plantains to staff for $1 per pound, despite the fact that the item was purchased between $3.50 to $4.50 per pound. Also lower grade corn and bhagi which was about to spoil due to incorrect cutting were sold at discounted prices to staff.
Stewart: Someone trying to destroy TTABA
CEO of TTABA Vassel Stewart said someone clearly was trying to damage the company’s interest to the extent that internal documents were being leaked to the Sunday Guardian.
“This is to bring the organisation into disrepute. There seems to be an orchestrated approach to destroy the organisation. Every week there is a leakage of information. We are being hit week after week. They are trying to show the company in a bad light. They are not putting out the information in a balanced approach. I think you better speak to the chairman and the new CEO that I understand will be in place.”
Stewart said he did not have a copy of the statement and could not respond. Questioned about Nykosi Ltd he said he was not familiar with the company. Asked how much TTABA was being owed, Stewart refused to comment. Efforts to reach Nykosi Ltd proved futile as both their telephone numbers are out of service.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.