Ban on rosewood may lead to judgement debt

TimberDealers in rosewood have threatened court action if the government fails to review the ban on the harvesting of the product.

A document made available to the Bureau for Internal Affairs (BIA), an anti-graft organisation, said the dealers had consulted their lawyers and claimed that they could prove that the arbitrary action taken by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources had led to economic loss to the state.

Thirty of the dealers including Messrs Nana Tutu and Sons Limited, Messrs Sidakon Woods Limited, Messrs Boakyewaa Enterprise Limited, Messrs Kambonse Ghana Limited, Messrs Time Concept Limited, Messrs Commodities Limited and Messrs Mey Company Limited said they had lost a total investment sum estimated at GH₵ 300 million due to the ban.

The amount includes mobilisation of heavy equipment to contract sites, labour cost, statutory payments to Forestry Commission and servicing of loans from the commercial banks.

BIA said although the commission granted permit to some companies to evacuate the balance of logs lying in some permit areas, the ministry came out with a news item emphasising that the ban on rosewood was still in force.

The news item on July 16, 2014, which was attributed to the then Minister; Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, reminded the public especially dealers in the product that the ban on the harvesting, transportation, processing, export or sale of rosewood in any way form was still in force.

The news said the measure was instituted to curtail the practice of illegal harvesting of rosewood, which were transported to neighbouring countries and brought back into the country as transit timber.

A statement issued by Mr Godfred Nkrumah, National Co-ordinating Director of BIA in Accra, said the ban had affected the livelihood of a number of dealers whose huge investments had gone waste.

The bureau mentioned Messrs Time Concepts Ghana Limited, which was asked to salvage rosewood log/billets in the Damongo, Bole and Yendi Districts in the Northern Region, to prevent them from being destroyed by wildfire.

However, the operation was suspended by the commission on June 9, 2014, due to some allegations against it.

On July 9, 2014, the company received an authorisation for the evaluation of the balance of logs left lying in the permit area by the commission, but as the business entity was preparing for the exercise, the ban was announced.

BIA said the premature ban had caused a number of companies to go bankrupt, which it viewed as not only unfair to indigenous businesses, but had led to financial loss to the state.

“We are therefore appealing to the government, the ministry, the commission and other stakeholders to lift the ban immediately,’ the statement said.

Source: GNA

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