Parliament approves $1.3 bn for COCOBOD …for purchase of cocoe beans for 2018/19 crop season

Mr Joseph Boahen Aiddo, CEO,COCOBOD

Mr Joseph Boahen Aiddo, CEO,COCOBOD

PARLIAMENT by a resolution yesterday approved a US$1.3 billion loan facility for the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for the purchase of cocoa beans for the 2018/2019 crop season.


The facility, from a consortium of six banks, comes with a commitment fee of 35 per cent interest margin, a libor of  60 basis points, 0.625 per cent flat Participation and Arrangement fee, up to US$66,000 legal cost and other expenses and zero per cent agency fee.


The consortium of banks are ABN AMRO Bank, Holland, Bank of China, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Standard Chartered Bank.


As part of the facility, a tax waiver amounting to US$6,500,000, in line with the Stamp Duty Act, has been granted the COCOBOD.


Dr Mark AssibeyYeboah, MP, New Juaben South, moving the motion for the adoption said the importance of the cocoa sector remained critical to the economy and that approving the facility for the purpose it is intended for would help boost the industry.


He said though the yield was declining as a result of reduction in cocoa lands, the committee was informed by officials of the COCOBOD that efforts were being made to help improve the yields in the year under review.


“So far a number of measures have been piloted and the results are positive. These include artificial pollination by using the hand, pruning of cocoa trees and application of fertilisers,” he said.


On the tax waivers, Dr Osei-Assibey said Cocobod was distressed financially due to declining world market prices “therefore paying the stamp duty would add further financial challenges to the Board.”


The Minority, however, was not enthused about the decision by the Cocobod and by extension government not to make any allocation of the expected funds to fund the construction of cocoa roads.


Bia East member, Richard Acheampong armed with photographs of cocoa-loaded trucks stuck in mud in his constituency said cocoa farmers were being denied their due in the distribution of the national cake.


He said the decision by the government to abandon work on cocoa roads started by the previous government and not allocate funds for the roads for the year under review was a demotivation for cocoa farmers.


He also questioned why the expenditure for last year’s loan of US$1.3 billion was not accounted for in the Finance Committee’s report and what GH¢300 million for operational expenditure was spent on.


But in a response on the roads, William Agyapong Quaittoo, MP, Akim Oda, said apart from the drop of cocoa prices which affected the finances of Cocobod, to continue with ongoing projects, the previous government spent three times more of the US$150 million earmarked for cocoa roads for the 2016/2017 crop season.


This balance, he said had to be bourne by the government hence making it difficult for it to continue with the cocoa road project.


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