Parliament yesterday approved the long term loan facility agreement between the government and the African Development Bank (AfDB) for an amount of US$600,000,000 for Cocoa Productivity Enhancement Programmes (CPEPs) by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
The approval was in pursuant to the provisions of Article 181 of the Constitution and Sections 55 and 56 of the Public Financial Management Act 2016 (ACT 921), the terms and conditions of all government borrowing which shall be laid before Parliament and shall not come into operation unless the terms and conditions are approved by a Resolution of Parliament in accordance with Article 181.
The House by the same resolution approved a waiver of US$3,000,000 slapped on the loan facility as Stamp Duty by the Provision of Article 174 (2) of the Constitution which empowered Parliament to confer power on any person or authority to waive or vary tax imposed by an Act of Parliament.
Since the loan facility was introduced as a motion and adopted by the House on Tuesday, yesterday’s approval was seen as a routine process since the Minority had accepted the loan in principles but punctured few holes into its disbursement during the debate on the Motion.
Before the approval, the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, had sought clarification from the Majority whether the Minister of Finance would present himself to the House to explain the few challenges the Minority had raised with regards to the loans.
It was when the response came in the affirmative that, the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, called for the presentation of the resolution after which the Deputy Minister for Finance, Abena Osei-Asare, moved for the acceptance of the resolution and was seconded by Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah, Chairman of the Finance Committee.
During a voice call for approval the Majority yelled a resounding ‘yea’ to indicate their approval, whilst the Minority did not either utter a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, an indication that the loan has an overwhelming approval from the House.
The US$600,000,000 loan agreement is to transform the cocoa beans cultivation through many interventions such as hand pollination to ensure more flowers on the cocoa plants, irrigation of the farms, rehabilitation of moribund farms, rehabilitation of trees affected by the swollen shoot disease through cutting and replanting of the trees, and building more warehouses for storage.
The loan would also take care of data collection on farmers and their farms, promotion and consumption of cocoa products and building the capacity of local manufacturers to add value to the beans.
BY LAWRENCE MARKWEI