He said that from 2001 to 2008, we never had cocoa production at over 700,000 metric tonnes.
I would want to put it on record that, in 2003 and 2004 season, total production was 736,975 and that is almost 740,000 metric tonnes. And in 2005 and 2006, total production was 740,458 metric tonnes.
And in 2008, it was 710,642 metric tonnes. So, he should check his record. In all these years, we went above 700,000 metric tonnes.
Mr Speaker, I am going to speak only on cocoa and I am glad that the Hon Minister for Finance is in the House. We have a number of questions that is begging for answers.
Mr Speaker, if we look at paragraph 61 of the Budget Statement, it states that, merchandise exports decreased by 23.0 per cent in 2015, compared to 2014 due to falling commodity prices; and then he mentioned cocoa as one of those prices.
Mr Speaker, however, if you go to paragraph 64, again, it admits that, export price realised for that year or 2015, increased by 22 per cent to settle at US$2,990.9 per tonne. It indicates that, there was an appreciation in the international price of cocoa. So, why did he say that in paragraph 61, there has been falling prices in cocoa? This has been the song of this Government ever since President Mahama took over as the President.
In the last four to five years, they have been saying that our economy is not growing because of fallen cocoa prices. Mr Speaker, that is not true. We have been monitoring the commodity prices on the international market and for all these years, cocoa prices at the international market have stayed around averagely US$3,000.
So, if COCOBOD and for that matter the Ministry of Finance go to the international market and it is not able to get, a good price, it should not say that we are experiencing falling international cocoa prices. That is not the truth. They can check that.
Mr Speaker, again, there is another inconsistency with production target. In paragraph 394, it says that, target for 2015 and 2016, is 850,000 metric tonnes. In the same way, last year, they mentioned that, target for last year cocoa production was 850,000 metric tonnes. Mr Speaker, these figures are not known to this House. This is because, each time they come to this House with a target when they are going for the syndicated loan.
Last year, they were in this House with a proposed target of 950,000 metric tonnes, and later they revised it to 850,000 metric tonnes. They have done the same thing this year. They are saying that, when they were coming for approval for the syndicated loan, they mentioned a total target of 900,000 metric tonnes.
Again, in this Budget, we are seeing 850,000 metric tonnes. Is that a trick? Today, they have increased the target. When they are coming for the loan and later realise that they cannot produce, when it comes to the Budget Statement they reduce it. They should watch out, We are not sleeping. We have seen the figures and we would of course correct them.
The Hon Minister for Finance should respect this House and come clean whenever he is coming to this House with those figures.
Mr Speaker, again, I am wondering whether Ghana was able to pay her loan for 2014 and 2015 seasons.
The Minister for Finance is in the House here, but he is busily chatting. I would want him to listen to this question. This is because, it is very important to
me and to the entire country. Are we or were we able to pay our loan for 2014 and 2015 season?
If we look at paragraph 61, it says that, ‘cocoa beans export amounted to US$1.34 billion, by exporting a volume of about 448,000 metric tonnes.'
On the 2nd July, 2015, the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance --