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Parliament approves $600m cocoa loan

Ghana’s parliament on Wednesday, 6 November 2019 approved the $600-million loan agreement for the Cocoa Productivity Enhancement Project.

Several initiatives such as mass cocoa-spraying exercises, agronomic support and input subsidies are expected to be undertaken under the project.

The loan is sourced from AfDB.

The House approved the loan through a vote on the floor.

The Speaker on Tuesday, 5 November deferred voting on the agreement for want of numbers after the Minority side raised opposition to the loan facility meant to boost cocoa production.

The opposition lawmakers feared the loan would not be used for the purpose for which it is being procured.

Per the details of the facility, $5 million of it has been earmarked for the consumption of chocolate by schoolchildren.

Also, COCOBOD is billed to spend over $2.5 million on awareness creation about eating chocolate bars.

Debating the report of the Finance Committee on the loan agreement on the floor of the House on Tuesday, the Ranking Member of the Committee, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson questioned why the state would spend its meagre resources on such expenses which, in his view, does not inure to the benefit of the cocoa sector.

“My major concern is the fact that this amount will attract interest from day one and for the fact that some of these monies will be sitting down idle over the period. Considering the fact that in times that you have funds sitting idle, there is a chance that one can misapply it, I do believe that this arrangement is not in the best interest of us.”

But the Chairman of the Committee, Dr Mark Assibey Yeboah defended the allocation, saying: “The trade finance facility is to enable COCOBOD obtain funds to finance cocoa productivity enhancement programmes, with the aim of increasing Ghana’s national output to an annual statistic of one million tonnes while also doubling average productivity.”

Source: ClassFMonline.com

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