Minister Orders Probe In To Exportation Of Rosewood

Ms Barbara Asamaoh -Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources (4)The Forestry Commission (FC) and the Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) have been asked to investigate how seized   51 containers of Rosewood at the Tema Port were harvested for export.

The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) in charge of Forestry, Ms Barbara Serwaa  Asamoah, who issued the direction on Friday, said: ‘‘I want the FC and the TIDD to ascertain whether some of their officials  connived and collaborated with the exporters to illegally  harvest and export  the banned  woods”.

Ms Asamoah gave the order when she inspected the Rosewood that was impounded by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA)   at the Tema Harbour, last Saturday.

She said government was concerned about the indiscriminate harvesting of the Rosewood, which could be found in the northern parts of the country.

Ms Asamoah said: ”The northern ecological zone, which is already sparse with trees, can have serious environmental challenges   if the Rosewood, which serve as a forest cover are allowed to be depleted”.

She commended the Customs officials for their vigilance, which led to the interception of the wood.

Ms Asamoah said: ”I appeal to the media and the citizenry to be vigilant so that we can clamp down on the nefarious activities of individuals who were engaged in the illegal exports of Rosewood for their parochial interest.”

The seized wood with an export value of $806,023.53 was being exported to India by Sidacom Woods Limited.

Government on January this year, with the intention of curbing the indiscriminate felling of the wood, to prevent deforestation, banned the export of Rosewood from Ghana.

Chief Revenue Officer of the Customs Division of the GRA, at the Tema Port, Mr Kwesi Ahiakpor, said the Customs officials became suspicious and impounded containers, which was found to be parked with Rosewood, and Papao wood, which is allowed for export.

The Chief Executive Officer of the TIDD, Dr Ben Donkor, explained that the exporter falsely declared the consignment so that he/she would pay less export levy.

According to him, the export levy per cubic meter of Papao wood was $924, whiles that of the Rosewood was $600.

Asked what could be done to clamp down on the illegal export of Rosewood, Dr Donkor suggested that all the shipping companies should process their documents through the GCNet platform.

He said this would enable Customs officials and the TIDD to know the right descriptions of goods ready for export.

An Assistant Commission, Preventive of the Customs Division of the GRA, Mr Czas N. Sabblah, reminded the public that false description of goods is an offence under Customs regulations, and offenders would be prosecuted.

From Kingsley Asare, Tema

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