Parliament approves $600m cocoa loan

Parliament has endorsed the $600 million loan agreement for the Cocoa Productivity Enhancement Project in spite of concerns raised by the Minority on Tuesday.

The Deputy Minister of Finance, Abena Osei Asare, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Atiwa East, yesterday moved the motion for the agreement to be passed. She was seconded by Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah.

On Tuesday, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu, who presided over proceedings, could not permit the House to vote on the issue because there was no quorum.

Even though the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC), led by the ranking member on Finance, Ato Forson, and the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, raised the concerns prior to the approval, the facility was approved.

The Minority has indicated that despite the approval, it will contact the lender, African Development Bank (AfDB), to re-organise the agreement in a better way since its current arrangement was not in the interest of Ghanaiancitizens.

But explaining the issues further on Citi FM, an Accra-based radio station, Fiifi Boafo, a manager at COCOBOD, said more discussions were held with the Minority on the issue.

“We do not think the situation is going to remain the same when Parliament reconvenes because a lot of the things that were said were out of the fact that some members were not privy to all the relevant information on this whole loan facility,” he said.

“Some of them have enquired after what happened in Parliament and explanations have been offered. It is our considered view that being informed about what the whole facility is about and it seeks to help cocoa farmers and the entire cocoa industry of the country when Parliament reconvenes, a decision will be made. There is the need for us to go ahead because this money will be put to proper use and will be beneficial to our country,” he added.

However, the Chairman of the Agricultural Committee of Parliament, Kwame Asafo Adjei, has described the expenditure as blameless.

Recently at Peduase Lodge, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah told journalists that the stimulus package, which comes in two parts—Commercial Part and Developmental Part—would help to raise cocoa production to over 1.5 million tonnes by 2027.

Cabinet has already approved it followed by the passage yesterday by Parliament. Officials of COCOBOD are expected to travel to South Africa to initiate efforts at accessing the amount.

As a medium term facility, it is a shift from the annual syndication loan to a higher medium to long financing.

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