Parliament on Thursday approved a syndicated cocoa loan of $1.3 billion to finance the procurement of cocoa for the 2022/2023 crop year by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
The asset-backed trade finance facility is between COCOBOD and a consortium of banks and financial institutions, with the Government of Ghana as guarantor.
The establishment has benefited from a stamp duty exemption of up to GHC 6.5 million, pursuant to Section 174 (2) of the 1992 constitution, Section 36 of the Act of 2005 on stamp duty (Law 689) and the internal rules of the Chamber.
Mr. Kwaku Kwarteng, Chairman of the Parliament’s Finance Committee, said the committee had carefully reviewed the agreement and the application and concluded that the unionized facility was integral to the successful management of the purchase-related transactions, quality assurance, storage and export of cocoa by COCOBOD.
Addressing the late submission of the facility to parliament, the chairman said the committee had expressed grave concern that the instant deal and request had only been presented to parliament in the last week in which the House had to rise sine die.
He said committee members were concerned that the House and MPs had not had enough time to review the documents on the funding facility and the stamp duty waiver request.
“While agreeing that the urgent approval of instant installation and application is in the national interest, the committee strongly reiterates that in the future, COCOBOD’s annual syndicated installation (and waiver application) should be brought to the House early to give MPs a much longer period to read and approve before Parliament rises sine die.
The Committee noted that for the crop year 2022/2023, cocoa production was conservatively forecast at 850,000 tons, which was based on the trend of cocoa production in recent years and the relevant agronomic practices adopted by the COCOBOD.
Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam Finance Committee Member/MP Dr. Cassiel Ato Baah Forson said that COCOBOD had a poor track record with an increase in the security rate.
He said cocoa issues must be important to all Ghanaians; adding that the government must ensure that the sector does not collapse.
Dr Forson said the sustainability of the cocoa industry depends on production and COCOBOD needs money to survive at the industry level.
He, however, urged stakeholders to pull together to ensure the sector thrives.
Mr. Partick Yaw Boamah, MP for Okaikwei Central, said the union’s endorsement was accurate in helping the sector meet expectations.
Mr. Eric Opoku, Member of the Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs Committee/MP Asunafo South, urged COCOBOD to make resources available to entrepreneurs in the cocoa value chain.
He also called on the government to ensure that cocoa farmers are paid on time for their production.
Dr Kwabena Donkor, MP for Pru East, who said Ghana has depended on syndicated loans for more than three decades to finance the cocoa season, urged the country to wean itself off syndication.
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, said that in the future, COCOBOD must ensure that the submission of the Syndicated Cocoa Loan Agreement document to Parliament was done in time to allow members of the House to be able to examine it in depth.
Mr. Alexander Afenyo-Markin, the Deputy Majority Leader, who said COCOBOD was facing huge challenges such as high prices for fertilizers and agrochemicals, also urged MPs to endorse the deal. syndicated cocoa loan.