The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has set up a seven-member committee to investigate allegation of corruption in rosewood trade in the country.
Expected to report back to the ministry within five weeks, the membership include Benito Owusu-Bio, Francis Manu Adabor, Ena. K. Blege, William Bandor, Jeremiah Seidu, Adjei Yeboah and Joseph Osiakwan.
The committee comes on the back of a recent publication by the BBC on a report published by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) titled “Ban-boozled: How Corruption and Collusion Fuel illegal Rosewood trade in Ghana.”
The report disclosed that, despite a ban on the harvest and trade in rosewood for the fifth time in Ghana, in March this year, and the listing of rosewood on the Appendix of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) that came into force in January 2017, massive illegal logging and export of rosewood to China continued unabated and with impunity.
It further mentioned some individuals, including heads of institutions, who through fraudulent schemes, forged official document, use of escorts, use of salvage permits and misdeclaration of timber species, among others, aided the illegal harvest, transport, export and CITES-licensing of the timber.
Specifically, it stated that since 2012, approximately six million Ghanaian rosewood trees have been imported into China while the ban on its harvest and export have been in place.
Inaugurating the committee in Accra yesterday, Sector Minister, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, said that, the committee was to investigate the allegations of corruption as reported in the publication by EIA and examine all anomalies in respect of rosewood salvage permits, transportation and export trade.
He noted that the committee was also to investigate if rosewood was still being traded in spite of the ban imposed by the minister in March 2019, and make the necessary recommendations to the ministry for appropriate actions to be taken.
The minister said the work of the committee would help in the implementation of appropriate actions to forestall future occurrence.
He reiterated that the ban on rosewood was still in force, adding that anyone who would violate it would face the full rigours of the law without any compromises.
Speaking on behalf of the other members, Mr Owusu-Bio, assured the public that the committee would work to unearth any illegality in rosewood trade and develop workable measures to deal with the menace.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS