Government has set up a committee to develop a roadmap towards revamping and expanding Ghana’s timber industry.
Under the auspices of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the committee has been tasked to solicit ideas and make recommendations to revamp the sector.
Chief Executive of Forestry Committee, John Allotey says the committee is expected to submit its report in the coming week for onward submission to the sector minister and cabinet.
“The committee is made up of about 70 percent private practitioners in the timber sub-sector just for them to sit down, sleep there and think about measures that you think when the government put in place, it will improve or revamp the timber sub-sector,” he said.
“The committee will submit the report to me; I am sure the committee will submit the report to me I’m sure may be by next week. I am supposed to look at it, send it to the minister will then sift the information and it would be part of his presentation to the Cabinet to see how we are going to revamp this timber sub-sector,” Mr. Allotey added.
According to the International Tropical Timber Organization’s Tropical Timber Market report, Ghana’s wood product exports declined from 397,000 in 2016 to 300,000 cubic meters between 2017 and 2019.
The country earned only Euro 150 million within the period, compared to Euro 225 million in 2016.
Perhaps informed by the current dip in timber trade figures, the government wants to revamp the industry which has proven to be a reliable foreign exchange earner.
According to Mr. Allotey, the Lands and Natural Resource Ministry will collate inputs from stakeholders in the timber industry, especially timber contractors to make a final decision.
He told a stakeholder’ meeting of the Forestry Commission and timber contractors in Sefwi-Wiawso this will inform the government on ways to revive the industry for increased youth employment.
“Primarily, all the places we have to deal with illegal mining, most of these places used to have sawmills. And it’s the sawmill that was absorbing most of the teeming youth population.
So if we are able to expand; if we are able to provide the necessary incentives that you need to open up your place and employ more people, what it means is that we would be able to deal with this huge backlog of unemployment that is almost everywhere in the country.”
The Wiawso meeting provided the platform for timber contractors to share their grievances with the CEO of the Forestry Commission and his team.
Issues include undue what they described as unnecessary harassment from the Forestry Commission taskforce.
For the contractors who are promising their support to the government to revive the timber industry, the Wiawso meeting was a rare opportunity.
They say meeting the Chief Executive of Forestry Commission, John Allotey in that one-on-one meeting was unprecedented.
“Seeing the CEO coming down to this level, I think it is unique and there is no better way to tackle a problem than to go where the problems are happening. I think he (Mr. Allotey) means business,” says Emmanuel Boamah, Chief Operating Officer of Lions Group Timber Company.
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