According to the expert, the pricing of Ghana’s timber is too low and revenue from it is a wind-fall to timber contractors and exporters.
The expert, Mr Elijah Danso says Ghana sells timber between $7 to $18 per cubic metre to timber companies and these companies resell them between $65 to $120 per cubic metre on the world market.
“Ghana loses $100 million from timber pricing to timber companies per annum”, Mr Danso said citing a study conducted by Forest Watch Ghana in 2004/ 2005.
Speaking to journalists at a meeting organized by the Editors Forum, Ghana (EFG) in collaboration with the Governance Initiative for Rights and Accountability in Forest Management (GIRAF) in Accra on April 20, 2011, Mr Danso said corruption in the timber industry is also affecting revenue because some stakeholders including public officials and timber companies are taking advantage of the loopholes in the forestry laws and are making a lot of money for themselves.
On inefficiency, he noted that laws governing the timber industry are outmoded and need to be reformed.
He lamented the fact that only 35 per cent to 40 per cent of felled timber is processed or converted with the rest going waste because most of the country’s wood mills are equipped with obsolete machines.
Mr Danso said for instance, the last time the country made an adjustment in the pricing of timber was in 2003 and since then there has been no increment even though, the law governing the industry says there ought to be automatic upward adjustment of prices yearly. He attributed governments’ failure to implement the law because of the strong influence of the timber lobbyists.
“They play with both sides of the political divide whether in opposition or in government”, he said.
He also said that the last time there was timber competitive bidding in the country was in 2004 and Ghana made GH¢11.7 million from that bidding which is even a wind fall. This money was incorporated into the national budget at that time.
On the issue of land degradation mostly caused by mining companies and timber firms, he said the country loses 10% of its gross domestic product (GDP).