Minority fumes over bill to put COCOBOD under Agric Ministry; says it is needless
The Minority in Parliament is kicking against a bill which seeks to put the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) under the Ministry of Agriculture.
The Minority says that the reasons given by the government are needless.
The Bill, which was laid in Parliament in February 2018, and read the second time by Madam Gloria Akuffo, Attorney General and Minister for Justice, yesterday, seeks to amend Section 39 of PNDCL 81 to vest ministerial responsibility over the activities of COCOBOD in the Ministry responsible for Agriculture.
COCOBOD, which was established in March 1984 by PNDCL 81, was vested with powers to formulate policies to facilitate the production, processing and marketing of cocoa, coffee, and shea in the country.
The law made the Minister Responsible for Trade to exercise ministerial power over COCOBOD.
However, the Ministry for Finance has been exercising oversight responsibility over COCOBOD since 2008.
But the current government thinks due to the mandate of the Board, it has to be under the Agric Ministry.
According to the government, the aim is to properly focus cocoa production as the foremost function of the Board.
The government also stated that putting the board under the ministry for proper focus would play an important role in Ghana’s economy, by employing about 800,000 people and generating about US$2 billion annually.
Another reason given was that cocoa was a major contributor to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, hence, special attention must be given to it.
However, a Minority Member of Parliament for Bandah, Mr Ahmed Ibrahim, indicated that if one of the reasons for the amendment was to generate more tonnes of cocoa, then the amendment was needless.
“If it’s about hitting one million tonnes per year, then the current status of COCOBOD is enough. The amendment is needless.”
Mr Ibrahim said that moving the Board from Trade to Agric cannot do the magic.
He also questioned why cocoa was going to be added when there are about six different tree crops currently under the Agric Ministry.
He said if the Minister has the magic to transform the Board, he should do so with the already existing tree crops under him.
“We have given him about six or seven tree crops, and you want to add another crop to it, how can he concentrate on developing all these?
“Cashew, coffee, mango and you are going to add cocoa.”
Mr Inusa Fuseni, Member of Parliament for Tamale Central, also indicated that it appeared there were other considerations other than the marketing of the cocoa which was informing the realignment of the Board.
He said that officials of COCOBOD indicated at the committee meeting that they had no difficulty with their current structure.
“So we think this move is motivated by other reasons and not defects in the existing arrangement.”
However, the Attorney General indicated that the practice of the Ministry of Finance exercising powers over COCOBOD was an anomaly that should be corrected.
“I think we should move away from the impression that too much us being added onto the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture, because the Trade Ministry is even not exercising that control anymore, it’s rather the Finance Ministry, and this is an anomaly and should be rectified as soon as possible.”