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Business News Wed, 28 Jan 2004

Timber men appeal for government support

Takoradi, Jan. 28, GNA- The Ghana Timber Association (GTA) has appealed to the Government to reconsider the plight of the indigenous Ghanaian Timber Producers by ensuring that they remain in business. Mr Kwame Owusu, National Organiser of the GTA, made the call at a press conference organised by the Association at Takoradi on Monday. He said between 1993 and 1994, members of the Association were allegedly accused by the NDC Government for financing the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and as a result, a large quantity of logs of various tree species meant for export at the Takoradi harbour were not allowed to be shipped although three ships called at the port to load them. Mr Owusu said the logs were made to rot at the expense of the country's economy.

He said this unilateral action resulted in most members of the association incurring heavy debts and some of them selling their houses and other properties to offset the debts.

He said others still owed the banks and the payment of their employees salaries have been in arrears for months.

He said the same people who are still at post, have now introduced Timber Utilization Contract (TUC) to indirectly phase out the Ghanaian Timber Producers from the timber industry and make timber available only to Lebanese timber men.

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Mr Owusu explained that under the TUC, the country's forest has been categorized into large, medium and small scale, adding that because Ghanaian Timber producers do not have heavy timber machinery, they do not qualify to apply for the large or medium forest allocation except for the small scale.

He said a research conducted by the GTA in the small-scale forest revealed that almost all the small-scale forests have already been harvested by chain-saw operators and have no matured trees.

The findings of the GTA have been made known to the Ministry of Lands and Forestry and Forestry Commission, "but up till now, we have not received any response from the Ministry or the Forestry Commission," he said.

He appealed to the government that since the Tree and Timber Amendment Law of 1994, Act 493 permits the exportation of round logs, timber producers should be allowed to export the less known tree species which have no use in the country to fetch some foreign exchange for the country.

Source: GNA
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