The Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD), a sub-division of the Forestry Commission, in partnership with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and Nature and Development Foundation (NDF), a non-profit organization has developed draft policy to regulate the procurement of timber and timber products for all government projects across the country.
The document, which is expected to be submitted to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and subsequently forwarded to Cabinet for approval after a nationwide stakeholders? consultation at the end of the first quarter of 2015, would ensure that timber products are acquired from certified and legal sources on the domestic market for government projects.
Per the guidelines, all Procurement Unit or Entities for the various state departments will be mandated to verify the source or sources of timber products they procure.
They are to ensure that every bidder for government projects, which would require the use of timber products, disclose the source of the timber he/she would use with certificates of ownership.
Delivering the keynote address at the maiden edition of the nationwide stakeholders? consultation meeting at Ada in the Greater Accra Region on Thursday, Samuel Afari Dartey, Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, said the implementation guidelines, when approved by Cabinet, would regulate and serve as a guide to all public institutions in the procurement of timber for domestic use.
According to him, one of the supporting measures required for the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed between Ghana and the European Union ?is to promote a legal timber procurement policy which is expected to significantly reduce the production and trade in illegal timber on the domestic market.?
The move, he said, was aimed at enhancing sustainable forest management, adding that ?it is our expectation therefore that all these initiatives will help curb illegal logging to secure future raw material supply to the timber industry.
According to a national domestic market survey conducted by the Forest Research Institute of Ghana in 2009, about 80 percent of timber products sold in Ghana were illegal and inferior.
Operations Director of TIDD, Henry Coleman, speaking to the media, stated that illegal trading activities on the market were on the rise because of the lack of proper guidelines to regulate the market.
He stated that Ghana risks becoming a net importer of wood.
Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), Rockson Dogbegah, a representative of the private sector at the meeting, attributed the high rate of illegal logging to corrupt practices, urging state institutions to accordingly deal with corrupt officials.
BY Melvin Tarlue