Ghana lose millions of dollars in stumpage fees
From Michael Boateng, Sunyani
Ghana is losing millions of dollars in revenue from the forestry sector, due to the inability of the government and Forestry Commission to quarterly review the stumpage fees as required by law.
Stumpage fees should be reviewed quarterly by Forestry Commission and the government, however, sources say the last time that stumpage fees were reviewed was in 2003. Government revenue at the time jumped from about $4 million to over $19 million.
The CEO of Global Media Foundation (GLOMEF), Raphael Godlove Ahenu Jnr. disclosed this to reporters in Sunyani. GLOMEF is a human rights and anti-corruption media advocacy organization working with local communities and government to ensure transparency and accountability in the natural resources and environment sector.
He said the inability of the government and the FC to review the stumpage fees has resulted in great loss of revenue to the state. According to him, Ghana could earn about $70 million as revenue from timber if approval of new stumpage fees were announced.
Mr. Ahenu Jr. noted that currently the stumpage fees for Mahogany log is GH¢24.27 and will jump to GH¢84.01 if the new stumpage fees are approved. Afrormosia, another log type, would also increase from GH¢50. 87 to GH¢126.24 with percentage increase of 148%, whilst that of Odum will move from GH¢25.16 to GH¢94.49 – representing 276% increment.
The CEO expressed great concern over the government inability to approve the new stumpage fees demanding that an action must be taken now.
Mr. Ahenu Jnr., who is anti-corruption campaigner further called on the government to make public a comprehensive list of timber rights holders and status of their financial obligations to the state and resources owning communities.
He urged the government to pursue timber companies who owe the Forestry Commission the most and recover all outstanding debt owed by timbers companies.
According to him, the major problem facing forest management in Ghana was not the activities of illegal chainsaw operators as being purported by Government and Forestry Commission but attributed it to lack of transparency and accountability in the sector, coupled with bad forest governance.
Mr. Ahenu Jnr. observed that effective governance of the natural resources and environment sector is crucial for the achievement of Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda and sustainable development for improved quality of life for Ghanaians.
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