The Minority in Parliament has said that considering extreme inflation and hardship in the country, the least that the Akufo-Addo government can do is to pay cocoa farmers remunerative cocoa prices.
The opposition lawmakers described the government as insensitive because in their view, cocoa farmers are reeling under sever hardship
In a press statement issued by Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, reacting to the 1.13bn Syndicated loan agreement signed y the Ghana Cocoa Board and the Ministry of Finance, the Minority said the international price of cocoa has appreciated slightly, above the previous year levels, so this Government should not, in this dire economic situation remain insensitive to the plight of cocoa farmers, stakeholders and Ghanaians in general.
“We wish to assure our hard-working cocoa farmers, that a future NDC government will not short-change them, and only wait to increase cocoa prices in an election year as we saw in 2020 and which they appear to be planning to repeat,” the statements aid.
Below is the full statement…
Farmers and stakeholders are running out of patience for COCOBOD. Every year cocoa prices are announced at the opening of the season. 1st October is internationally recognised as the start of the cocoa season worldwide as affirmed by the UN body for cocoa, the International Cocoa Organisation — ICCO.
2. This year COCOBOD opened the cocoa season without a producer price for cocoa. After wasting scarce resources to organise a cocoa day that,was poorly attended, farmers and stakeholders in the cocoa industry are left in suspense about the price.
3. We wish to send a loud and clear message to this government; cocoa farmers are fed up and demand their cocoa price now.
4. After all this uncertainty, government should not announce any price below GHS 1000 per bag, or GHS16,000 per tonne. Ghanaians are all witnesses to the historic depreciation of the Cedi. In 2021, COCOBOD used an exchange rate of GHS 6 to the $1. We wish to remind them that the dollar is now more than 10. Even at the dollar equivalent price, famers and all stakeholders including LBCs and Haulers should receive higher prices and margins this year.
5. On Friday 30th September 2022, Ivory Coast announced a price of 900 CFA which is equivalent o GHS852 per bag or GHS13,632 per tonne. If this government fails to raise cocoa prices, it could trigger massive smuggling, particularly at a time when we need every single dollar
6. With significant volumes of cocoa purchased in October, the Ivorian price now leading Ghana by a whopping GHS192, Ghana could be losing cocoa to smuggling as a result of the needless delay in announcing the producer price.
7. Considering extreme inflation and hardship in the country, the least this insensitive government can do is to pay cocoa farmers remunerative cocoa prices.
8. In addition, the international price of cocoa has appreciated slightly, above the previous year levels, so this Government should not, in this dire economic situation remain insensitive to the plight of cocoa farmers, stakeholders and Ghanaians in general.
9. We wish to assure our hard-working cocoa farmers, that a future NDC government will not short-change them, and only wait to increase cocoa prices in an election year as we saw in 2020 and which they appear to be planning to repeat.
Very late and very little: 2022 syndicated loan
10. The Syndicated loan was signed on 3rd October 2022, for the first time in 30-years. The Syndicated Loan is typically signed before October so that the draw down is timed to the start of the season. However, this government has added late signing of syndicated loans to its plethora of failures.
11. Parliament approved up to $1.3 billion syndicated loan. However, COCOBOD could only get $1.13bn. This is purely due to the lack of confidence in the Ghanaian economy resulting from the generally agreed incompetence and gross mismanagement of the Ghanaian economy.
12. With huge and unprecedented debt overhang at COCOBOD, will the syndicated loan go into purchase of cocoa and related operations? Or will LBCs suffer the same faith of borrowing very expensive loans to buy cocoa from farmers, only for COCOBOD not to pay them, as we have seen since 2017?
13. During the just ended season, COCOBOD took a loan of $1.3billion to buy 850 tonnes of cocoa. Actual production is about 700,000, the lowest production in more than 10 years. Another unprecedented failure. Yet LBCs complain that COCOBOD is still owing them for cocoa delivered. Where is the money?
14. This Government is collapsing the cocoa sector as it has done to every other sector. They must be reminded that Cocoa is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy. Ghanaians are saying enough of the mismanagement.
15. The NDC Caucus in Parliament demands an urgent intervention from the President on the policy alternatives we have provided in this statement so our suffocating cocoa sector would be salvaged.
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