Timber Firms Evade Royalty Payments

Kingsly Bekoe Ansah, Programmes Officer of Civic Response, policy advocacy organization, has stated that a significant number of timber firms operating in the country are deliberately not paying royalties to host communities.

Mr. Bekoe Ansah made this known on Wednesday in Accra at a press briefing organized by Editors Forum, Ghana to highlight forest governance system in the country.

The Programmes Officer indicated that a lot of timber companies in the country were yet to sign their social responsibility agreement with host communities even though most of them have been in operation for a long time.

‘The aspect of social responsibility agreement is outstanding. A lot of timber firms have not signed their social responsibility agreements and are not paying a damn to those communities but are destroying their resources,’ he claimed.

Even though he declined to openly disclose the names of such companies engaged in the dubious act, he told BUSINESS GUIDE on the sidelines of the event that those companies involved in the act were doing so with the support of some government officials, including officials of the Forestry Commission.

He further indicated that even though timber companies were not supposed to log with just Timber Utilization Permit (TUP) according to Ghanaian law, some timber firms in Ghana were logging with the TUP due to corruption and lack of proper monitoring by officials of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Forestry Commission.

Mr. Bekoe Ansah also pointed out that over-exploitation of forest resources remained a critical challenge to the development of the nation’s forestry sector.

He said ‘currently, Ghana is harvesting timber at unsustainable levels, both in the on-and-off-reserve areas.’

‘An estimated 4.5 million m3 is being extracted annually, which is more than double the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) of 2 million set by the Forestry Commission,’ he said, adding that ‘this issue of overharvesting is closely linked with the issue of chainsaw milling.’

He also noted that inhabitants do not have farmlands due to the fact that most of their lands were being sold to the business community by government for development.

He called for vigorous land and tree tenure reforms regime in Ghana to ensure that host communities benefit from the extraction of resources on their soil.

‘It is important that government gathers the bold political will to tackle issues of land tenure reforms since any reform effort with forests is bound to fail without reform of the fundamental resource of land,’ according to Mr. Bekoe Ansah.

BY Melvin Tarlue

More Business & Finance »

This article has 0 comment, leave your comment.