Parliament to approve US$600m cocoa stimulus loan despite minority’s concerns

Parliament is today expected to approve the US$600 million credit facility meant for the Cocobod cocoa sector stimulus programme despite concerns raised by the minority over certain aspects of the facility.

The stimulus package which is being financed with a loan facility from the African Development Bank will, among other things, have US$68 million used for hand pollination of cocoa trees; US$5 million as part of the school feeding programme for the distribution of chocolate and cocoa products to school pupils; and US$200 million dollars to promote local processing of cocoa, among others.

But the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu said it will be in the country’s interest if detailed information could be provided regarding certain aspects of the proposed stimulus programme.

“We want to know where the US$200 million will be going to because US$200 million can even set up four processing factories if we are to do a minimum of US$50 million per factory. That will be supporting indigenous Ghanaians in that sector. We have no difficulty with it but when we say US$200 million to support the domestic processing of cocoa, the committee must demand who will get this as support.

“We need to know because you can set up a factory with US$50 million….We need full details from the government. Who will it go to? For what?”

But the Chairman of the Parliament’s Select-Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Kwame Asafo Adjei believes the expenditure is in order.

“Government’s intervention is paramount. If we believe cocoa is the backbone of this country’s economy, how do we do it? Should the government sit down and let cocoa production decline as they did in their time? That is why we are going for this loan.”

The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei-Owusu, among other things, ruled that the Select Committee on Finance Committee of which the minority is part of has already done extensive work in scrutinizing the loan agreement.

Stimulus Package

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah had recently explained that the amount is to push Ghana’s cocoa production to 1.5 million tonnes by 2027, among others.

“The Akufo-Addo administration acting through COCOBOD will inject a US$600 million stimulus package into the cocoa sector through a Cocoa Productivity Enhancement Program which is ultimately expected to shore up Ghana’s production to 1.5 million metric tonnes by 2027.”

He said the stimulus will target rehabilitation of plantations, improvement in storage and domestic processing, stimulation of local consumption as well as efforts to increase output on farms among others within a 7-year period.

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