The Domestic Lumber Traders Association of Ghana is demanding the abolishment of duties and levies on importation of wood into the country.
According to the group, the move will encourage traders to resort to importations for domestic consumption to satisfy the increasing demand for wood in the country.
Statistics from the global forest watch indicates that Ghana loses about 65,000 hectors of forests annually to illegal chain saw operations.
The Domestic Lumbers Association argued that a tax waiver will go a long way to help the country regain its depleting forest cover.
Vice President of the Association Benjamin Amoako said in interview with Starr News that, “We have done all the necessary efforts to bring in wood from outside the country. We started about five years ago when government continually demonstrated its disinterest in our proposal. Our only challenge is the tax and duty on the wood we import, we want government to intervene by waiving the tax and imports”.
“This will reduce the pressure on our already depleting forest” he stressed.
The Nature and Development Foundation, a pro-environment CSO is currently pushing for the immediate passage of the Public Procurement Policy on Timber in the country.
According to the CSO, Ghana is at the verge of losing all of its forests due to the unregulated activities of illicit timber harvesting.
Recent studies by the NDF with support from the FAO and DFID also revealed that more than eighty percent of wood on the domestic market is from illegal sources and the government of Ghana is the highest consumer of these illegally harvested wood for its projects.
Programs Officer of the Nature Development Foundation, Glen Asomanin told Starr News that, “the passage of the policy document to sanitize the system has become necessary due to the rate at which the illegality is affecting the country’s economic and environmental fronts.”
Already, National and regional executives of the Domestic Lumber Traders have sent a team to Liberia for negotiations on regular purchasing and importation of their wood to Ghana for the domestic market.
“The truth of the matter is that our forest is gone, looking at the percentage we are at, by the next ten years, we will not get wood to buy in Ghana anymore if we do not take immediate action on it. We have so many people and groups who need timber to work, we cannot allow that industry die.
“There is the need to import Timber to keep our business going, that is why our people are in Liberia to negotiate on the terms for us,” Greater Accra Regional Chairman for the association, Joe Mann revealed.