A FORMER Deputy Minister of Finance, KwakuKwarteng, has called for a national conversation on the mandate of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD).
According to MrKwarteng who is now the Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament, burdening the Board with extra responsibilities like the construction of roads could affect the efficiency of the agency.
Commenting on a statement on the floor of Parliament in Accra yesterday, MrKwarteng, MP, Obuasi West, said giving extra responsibilities to the COCOBOD was contributing to the financial difficulties of the cocoa sector regulator.
“The construction of cocoa roads as an expenditure on COCOBOD is a policy that this country would have to revisit.
“What is the point in establishing an institution to deliver on a mandate and then we end up assigning to that institution mandate that they have no expertise in?”
“This is contributing to the financial difficulties of the COCOBOD,” KwakuKwarteng stated.
His call followed accusations by the Minority that the Akufo-Addo led regime used the cocoa sector for political campaign which ultimately won it power in the 2016 elections.
Ranking Member on the Food and Agriculture Committee, Eric Opoku, in his submission said whilst the John Mahama administration was accused of altering the core mandate of the COCOBOD to construct roads to the tune of GHC5 billion in 2016, the Akufo-Addo government has awarded road contracts on the book of the COCOBOD to the tune of GHC13 billion.
This, MrOpoku, MP, Asunafo South said, smacks of hypocrisy and same must not be encouraged in the body politics of the country.
Agreeing with Mr Opoku on that note, KwakuKwarteng said the time had come for both sides of the political divide to come together to find a solution to the sustainability of the COCOBOD in particular and the industry in general.
“The political leadership of this country, both past and present, must make a clear decision what we want COCOBOD to do otherwise, we risk destroying not only the COCOBOD but ultimately the industry that COCOBOD leads.
“Unless we sit down and review the workings of COCOBOD, we will continue doing politics with it and in the end we will destroy not the Board but the industry,” he said.
The MPs were commenting on a statement delivered on the floor by Offinso South MP, Dr Isaac Yaw Opoku, who was celebrating the “unprecedented” cocoa seedonthe country has recorded.
To him the 1,045,500 metric tonnes of cocoa harvested in the 2020/2021 crop season, compared to the 1,024,526 tonnes recorded in 2010/2011 season under the NDC administration, was down to investment in the sector.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI