Business News of 2014-05-24

Ghana to start issuing Timber Validity License

Miss Barbara Serwah Asamoah, Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, on Wednesday, said the country was expected to issue its first Timber Validity License (TVL) for the export of timber to markets in the European Union (EU) by the end of the year.

She said the issuance of TVL formed part of the EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement designed to stop the export of illegal timber to the EU markets of which the country is a signatory.

Miss Asamoah said this when Mr. Claude Maerten, EU Ambassador in Ghana, who is on a two-day tour of the Western Region, visited the John Bitar and Co Limited, a timber firm at Essikado, to assess the country’s preparation towards compliance with the EU Voluntary Partnership Agreement.

She said Ghana had initiated several processes towards full compliance with the agreement since signing the agreement in 2009.

Miss Asamoah said the issuance of the license would pave the way for Ghanaian companies to export legally harvested timber to the EU markets and the measure would go a long way to eliminate illegal timber in the domestic market as well.

Mr. Maerten commended the government for the steps it had taken to eliminate illegal timber export which has contributed to the depletion of forest reserves.

Earlier at a meeting with officials of the Forest Commission (FC), Mr. Chris Beeko, Director in-charge of the Timber Validity Department of the FC, said the country was prepared to issue TVL.

He said the TVL was to ensure that timber production was in accordance with the laws governing timber allocation, extraction, processing and trade.

Mr. Beeko said the FC had put in place a Legality Assurance System (LAS) to help track timber as it moves through the various stages of production to ensure that it is legal.

He said the system had been automated and the data would help to manage and regulate the forest and forest industry, and the amount of revenue to be collected.

Dr. Ben Donkor, the Executive Director of the Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD), said the division had positioned itself to ensure compliance of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement.

He said a verification system based on accountability and transparency in Ghana’s forest governance had been developed and is undergoing final system trial and adoption.

Dr. Donkor said a Timber Validation Committee (TVC) has been constituted.

Later, Mr. Maerten paid a courtesy call on Mr. Paul Evans Aidoo, Western Regional Minister at his residence.

Present at the function were Miss Asamoah, Mr. Alfred Ekow Gyan, Deputy Regional Minister, Captain Anthony Cudjoe (rtd), Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolitan Chief Executive and officials of the FC.