General News of Thursday, 17 December 2015
The minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) in parliament has seriously questioned the rationale behind the government’s intention to go for another $300 million loan for the purchase of cocoa in respect of piled-up bills or receivables for cocoa farmers.
According to the minority, the government had already gone for $1.7 billion syndicated loan for the purchase of 850,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans but was able to buy 700,000 metric tonnes, meaning there should be outstanding money from the syndicated loan left to finance any other expenses in the cocoa sector.
The ranking member of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, told DAILY GUIDE yesterday that the $300 million loan the government was going for is totally unnecessary and the minority strongly suspects that the money is going to be used for a ‘different’ purpose; and for that matter, it would not want to associate itself with it.
The minority members strongly objected to the new loan when the agreement was laid in parliament very late on Tuesday, threatening to boycott the discussion on the loan because ‘it looks fishy.’
According to Dr Afriyie Akoto, there is no justifiable reason for this particular loan which the government wants to use its majority parliamentarians to approve of.
The ranking member explained that if the argument is that the government intends to pay some receivables for cocoa farmers, then there must be enough money available for the government to do that.
He explained that for the whole of 2014, there was no increase in producer price of cocoa while in 2013 there was only 5 percent increase for farmers – meaning not much is needed to pay cocoa farmers.
He further argued that since prices of cocoa are quoted in dollars on the world market, government had been able to raise a lot of money from the sale of cocoa abroad since the local currency has badly depreciated against the dollar, stressing that “we expect the government to have a lot of money to pay any receivables to cocoa farmers and not go in for another big loan to do that.”
Dr Afriyie Akoto fumed, “This indeed is fishy and we would not be part of this loan.”
The approval of the loan was deferred to yesterday because there was no quorum on the day the (loan) agreement was put before the house and the majority had to marshal its members to approve of it yesterday by voice votes.