Parliament has approved a Trade Finance facility between Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and a consortium of banks and financial institutions for an amount of US$1.3 billion for the purchase of cocoa for the 2018/2019 crop season.
The facility which has the government of Ghana as the guarantor was laid in parliament by Mr Kweku Kwarteng, Deputy Minister of Finance.
Dr Mark Assibey Yeboah, Chairman of the Finance Committee in presenting the Committee’s report stated that the cocoa industry has contributed significantly to the economic development of Ghana.
He said the industry over the years created employment for millions of Ghanaians and served as a major source of foreign exchange for the country.
He said the one of the main functions of COCOBOD is to purchase, market and export cocoa and cocoa products produced in Ghana.
Dr Assibey Yeboah also noted that the offshore syndicated Trade Finance arrangement was put in place in 1994 to enable COCOBOD secure a loan facility to finance the purchase of cocoa and for other payments each year.
He said this year, the Board of Directors of COCOBOD gave approval for COCOBOD to borrow up to US$1.3 billion for the purchase of cocoa for the2018/2019 crop season.
He said the rationale for the Trade facility was to enable COCOBOD raise adequate funds to purchase cocoa beans from farmers through licensed buying companies for the2018/2019 crop season.
Mr John Jinapor, Member of Parliament (MP) for Yapei Kusawgu in his contribution stressed the need for more local banks taking greater stake and participating more in the consortium.
He said anytime the country went borrowing the foreign banks were willing to assist because the price element and interest rate on the loan went to their benefit and called on government to process more cocoa beans and not export them in its raw form.
Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, MP for Tamale Central in his contribution raised concerns about the tax waiver being given to the consortium and said the chairman of the committee should explain to the House the benefit the nation would derive by waiving the tax to the consortium.
He said the tax waiver could just be adding to the interest on the facility the country has to service in the long term.
Mr Kwame Asafo-Adjei, MP for Nsuta Kwaman-Beposo in his contribution raised concerns about pests, diseases and ageing cocoa farmers which he said needed critical attention and stressed the need for COCOBOD to process more of the cocoa beans as well as look for other markets especially in China for exports.
He said Ghanaians should also be encouraged to consume more of the cocoa produced locally rather than consuming tea and coffee.