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Voluntary Partnership Agreement in the best interest of Ghana – Deputy Minister

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TimberMs Barbara Serwaah Asamoah, Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has stated that the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed by Ghana and the European Union (EU), was in the best interest of the country.

She said the agreement was not to impose any additional laws on the timber industry, but rather, it was to help consolidate the existing laws in the country to strengthen governance system in the forestry sector.

Speaking at the launch of educational materials on timber legality assurance at Fumesua, near Ejisu, on Wednesday, Ms Asamoah, pointed out that the VPA arrangement would promote equitable distribution of benefits from forest resources.

The materials “Understanding Ghana’s Timber Legality Assurance System” (TLAS) and “Sourcing Wood Legally in Ghana”, were developed and published by Tropenbos International Ghana (TBI), as a training manual under the project “Supporting intermediaries with information and guidance to comply with the Legality Assurance System (LAS) and engage in policy advocacy on the domestic market reform in Ghana”.

The project is  funded by the European Commission.

Ms Asamoah said Ghana losses millions of cedis in illegal logging annually, pointing out that, over 80 per cent of timber on the domestic market was illegally sourced.

She said the implementation of the VPA would not only reduce revenue losses to the state, but would also enhance good governance in the forest sector.

Ms Asamoah,  however, said the implementation of the arrangement could only be effective if all key stakeholders got actively involved,  and praised TBI for its role in mobilizing stakeholder support for the agreement.

Mr Peter Zormelo, Trade and Industry Development Manager at the Timber Industry Development Division (TIDD) of the Forestry Commission (FC) said sustainable forest management was very important for the country.

He said the FC was still pursuing an agenda of domestic market reforms to increase the domestic supply of timber in the country.

Mr Christopher Ackon, Programme Officer, Infrastructure and Sustainable Development Section of the European Delegation in Ghana, stressed the need to increase awareness and deepen the understanding of all relevant stakeholders on their roles in the VPA.

Mr S.K Nketiah, Programmes Director, TBI said not much attention had been given to the small and medium scale enterprises in the timber industry sector, even though, they played important role.

He said timber legality issues have come to stay and industry players should brace themselves to comply.

Source: GNA

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