Parliament on Friday, November 17, approved an $800 million loan facility to finance the purchase of cocoa beans for the 2023/2024 crop season by the Ghana Cocoa Board (Cocobod).
The approval which was done in accordance with Article 181 of the 1992 Constitution, marks a crucial step in sustaining the nation’s ailing cocoa industry.
Chairman of the Finance Committee, Kwaku Kwarteng who presented the Committee Report to Parliament for debate and approval, emphasized the important role played by the cocoa industry in the country’s economic development.
He said the cocoa industry significantly contributes to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and remains a major source of Ghana’s foreign exchange earnings.
“The cocoa industry is a cornerstone of our economic development, contributing significantly to our GDP and serving as a key pillar for foreign exchange earnings,” Hon. Kwarteng stated.
The approved facility will be utilized to purchase approximately 47% of the projected 850,000 tonnes of cocoa beans for the upcoming season. The loan is set to be drawn in two installments, spanning from November 2023 to February 2024.
Parliament also approved a waiver of Stamp Duty amounting to $4 million on the receivables-backed trade facility between Cocobod and a consortium of banks and financial institutions, with the government acting as guarantor.
However, the approval did not come without debate and concerns.
The Finance Committee expressed reservations about Cocobod’s extended responsibilities beyond its core mandate, particularly its involvement in financing the Cocoa Roads Improvement Programme (CRIP) I & II.
The Committee recommended that Cocobod refocus on its core mandate once the ongoing road projects are completed.
“The Committee is concerned about Cocobod overshooting its responsibilities by engaging in activities outside its core mandate. We recommend a return to the core mandate once ongoing projects are completed,” the Committee stated.
Eric Opoku, the Member of Parliament for Asunafo South, expressed dissatisfaction with Cocobod’s current operations, attributing the company’s difficulties to mismanagement.
“In the seven years of the Akufo-Addo administration, Cocobod has consistently incurred losses on its operation while allowances and administrative expenditures continue to increase astronomically,” Opoku remarked.
He further disclosed that, despite reservations, the approval of the loan facility was motivated by the welfare and interests of Ghanaian cocoa farmers.
He underscored the need for transparency and accountability within Cocobod to address the challenges the company faces.
The Minority expressed displeasure with the current state of the company, citing mismanagement and financial crises, and warned it is essential for Cocobod to address these issues and ensure the welfare of our cocoa farmers.
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