Parliament waives taxes, duties for cocoa purchases by COCOBOD

BY: Samuel K. Obour

Parliament has approved a request by the Minister of Finance for a waiver of taxes and duties amounting to $15,000,000 on a $1.5 billion loan facility for cocoa purchases by the Ghana Cocoa Board for the year 2012/2013 crop season.

The offshore syndicated trade finance facility is to enable the company to, apart from purchasing cocoa, make other payments to stakeholders.

The financing arrangement involves a consortium of about 38 international and local banks providing the money to finance the purchase of 800,000 metric tonnes of cocoa beans for the 2012/2013 crop season.

Section 32 (6) of the Stamp Duty Act, 2005 (Act 689), however, requires the payment of one per cent stamp duty on the amount.

To ensure that the full value of the loan is used for cocoa purchase, there was the need to waive the stamp duty on the loan facility.

The motion seeking the adoption of the report of the Finance Committee on the request for the waiver of tax was moved by the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Mr James Klutse Avedzi (NDC, Ketu North), last Friday.

The consequential resolution for approval by the House was moved by a Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson.

The request for a waiver of tax with regard to the loan was presented to Parliament on March 4, 2013 by the Minister in charge of Government Business in Parliament, Mr Benjamin Bewa-Nyog Kunbuor.

The Speaker, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, referred the request to the Finance Committee for consideration and report in accordance with Article 174 (2) of the 1992 Constitution and Standing Order 169 of Parliament.

Pursuant to the referral, the committee met with a Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Ghana Cocoa Board and considered the referral.

The cocoa industry has contributed significantly to the economic development of Ghana over the years.

In 2010, cocoa contributed about a quarter to Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product  (GDP) but this declined to 19 per cent in 2012 as a result of the contribution of oil.

The industry had over the years generated employment for millions of Ghanaians and served as a major source of foreign exchange for the country.

Cocoa production had increased significantly since the 1999/2000 crop season, reaching a then all-time high of 740,458 metric tonnes in the 2005/ 2006 crop season.

That record was remarkably broken in the 2010/2011 crop season with a record production level of one million metric tonnes.

Presenting the report of the Finance Committee, Mr Avedzi said the increase in the levels of production required substantial financial resources to enable the Ghana Cocoa Board to finance the purchase of cocoa beans.

To that end, he said the offshore syndicated trade finance facility was established in 1994 to enable the Ghana Cocoa Board to to secure a loan to finance cocoa purchases and for other payments each year.

He said having carefully examined the referral by the Speaker, the committee was convinced that the House needed to approve the request for a waiver.

By Mark-Anthony Vinorkor