GII launches report on corruption risk in forestry sector

By Kwamina Tandoh/Gideon Ahenkorah, GNA

Accra, Sept. 15,
GNA – The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) on Thursday launched a report on
corruption risk and governance assessment research under a crafted policy
dubbed: “Reducing emissions from deforestations and forest degradation (REDD+).

The report which
was studied in three districts and Greater Accra, Ashanti and Northern Regions
seeks to bring to bare some of the key indicators that influence corruption in
the forestry sector.

REDD+ is a policy
championed and spearheaded by GII to help bring to halt land-use related
emissions from developing countries.

Dr Winston Asante,
Lecturer, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology who presented the
report at a stakeholders meeting in Accra, said political economy is the major
source of corrupt practices in the forestry sector.

He said the issue
is pivoted around the influence of politicians in decision making, and law
enforcement.

He said the report
revealed that some politicians interfere in the arrest and prosecution of
offenders of forest laws and even bribe forest patrol teams during patrol
operations, which impedes government efforts and interventions to reduce
corruption in our forestry sector.

The report also
revealed that there are series of corrupt practices in forestry activities
monitoring which normally occur in the award of contracts, procurement of
materials and supplies and payment of wages of plantation workers.

Mrs Linda
Ofori-Kwafo, the Executive Director of GII in an interview with the Ghana News
Agency, said law enforcement appointees should be sanctioned if they flout
relevant rules and regulations governing the forestry sector and by so doing it
will deter others from violating forestry laws.

She said actors
like politicians and stakeholders should work towards embracing corrupt- free
forestry activities in Ghana.

The report
recommended that efforts should be made to strengthen the institutional
mechanism of the forestry sector in a way that will ensure that the systems
work, and the structures are able to provide resilience to undue political
interference in technical issues in the sector.

It also recommends
that law enforcement need to be strengthened, but in doing so, appropriate
sanctions should be meted out to law enforcement agents who are found to have
committed corrupt practices to serves as a deterrent to others.

It states that REDD+
processes should continue to engage with the Forest Law Enforcement Government
Trade processes, in order to benefit from the generally improved governance
regime that would result whereas advocacy measures on REDD+ corruption risks
should be synergised with the activities of Forest Watch Ghana.

The meeting brought
together Stakeholders from Institutions like the Ministry of Lands and Natural
Resources, Forestry Commission Ghana REDD+ Secretariat, Ministry of
Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation and the Environmental
Protection Agency.

GNA

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