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MLNR HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE ROSEWOOD COMMITTEE FINDINGS
Posted: 24 Feb 2020

              

 

MLNR HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE ROSEWOOD COMMITTEE FINDINGS

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resource organised a press conference presented by the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Allegations of Corruption in Rosewood Trade in Ghana. On August 26, 2019, the Sector Minister, Hon. Kwaku Asomah- Cheremeh inaugurated a Seven-Member Committee to investigate the allegations. It was the position of the government that these multifaceted allegations by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) on institutionalised corruption, collusion, trafficking, and the lack of law enforcement in the Rosewood trade in Ghana, stand to damage the country’s international reputation and its compliance with legality requirements under the upcoming VPA-FLEGT programme.

The field investigations revealed that there are several institutional weaknesses and lapses in the Rosewood trade from the community level to the ports of exit. ‘This is due to the highly informal nature of the trade as communities harvest the timber for sale to agents who then aggregate for sale to traders and in turn resell to buyers, mostly Chinese’, the report stated. The Committee has recommended an extensive inter-agency collaboration between the Forestry Commission, the Police Service, the GRA Customs and the Intelligence agencies to ensure that all activities of the banned and endangered Rosewood trees are brought to a complete halt. The government Committee’s Report insisted that the actual Rosewood timber harvested between the period 2012 to 2019, using the Chinese import data, amounted to 489,766 (four hundred and eighty-nine thousand, seven hundred and sixty-six) trees, rather than six million (6,000,000) trees (as purported by the EIA), adding that Ghana did not have that quantity of merchantable Rosewood trees to be harvested and exported during the period in question.

It noted that the significant disparities are largely due to the deliberate misclassification and misdeclaration by freight forwarders, as a result of a lack of institutional capacity in Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority in relation to timber species identification. The video footages and other materials provided by the EIA did not have enough evidence to back its corruption claims.

 Hon. Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh at the conference, directed the Forestry Directorate of the Ministry to liaise with the Forestry Commission to develop modalities to enhance monitoring mechanisms within various hotspot rosewood districts across the country. He served notice of evacuating all lying logs of Rosewood found out across the hotspots to a central location for auctioning to the general public for value added processing.

To enhance the general outlook of the Rosewood trade, he advised all interested parties including the local and international media to focus on the consumer countries (largely China and Vietnam) who import illegal timber from Ghana. He emphasised, attention should be on companies which forge documentation to cover wood exports to Vietnam. These companies should be named and shamed.

Mr. Asomah- Cheremeh further tasked the Forestry Commission in the long term to conduct a comprehensive inventory of Rosewood resources to establish the sustainable exploitation levels of the resource, and also to promote the plantation development of Rosewood to ensure the sustainability of the species.

 

 

 

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