THE CHIEF of Staff, Kwadwo Mpiani, has ordered the Ministry of National Security (MNS) and Forestry Commission (FC) to remove Richard Asante Bediako, Chief Executive Officer of the Environmental Monitoring Foundation (EMF) from the One Stop Collection Point (OSCP), a committee set up by the ministry to check illegalities and leakages in the timber industry.
The OSCP was also tasked to collect monies from timber firms who might divert state funds into their pockets either through under or over invoicing.
The Chief of Staff in addition, ordered that the letterhead currently being used by the OSCP be replaced by that of the Forestry Commission.
Mr. Mpiani's order was contained in a letter dated March 11, this year and signed by the Chief Director of the MNS, Mr. H. A. L. Mbeah. The order further asked that MDAs with their members on the committee be replaced in accordance with previous agreement that members be changed quarterly.
The One Stop Collection Point was set up by National Security to curb the irregularities in the forestry sector and has since collected $2,620,555.96.
The Chief of Staff, in a meeting with the members of the OSCP at the Castle on November 19, last year, noted that the inclusion of certain organisations and persons on the committee was not in order, as some of them were referees and at the same time players.
Mr. Mpiani at the meeting, as contained in the letter, indicated that since the One Stop Collection Point was set up by the government and is being manned by its officials, while being mandated by law to carry out specific functions, the direct involvement of Mr. Bediako and EMF could pose legal problems.
He stated that the involvement of Mr. Bediako had to be regularized either through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, FC or MNS or he should be recruited to work as an informant or collaborator and a way found to pay him.
In the letter, Mr. Mpiani recommended that the EMF should be decoupled from Collection Point, but could remain a partner.
The Chief of Staff said Mr. Bediako was in the timber industry with a wide range of experience, and knew all about illegal operations being perpetuated by some timber exporting firms and forestry officials.
He said although he had relinquished his timber company to new management and had made press announcements, his role on the Collection Point suggested that he was a player and at the same time a referee and therefore he should be removed from the OSCP.
At the meeting, it was recommended that the EMF be made to operate independently, to enable it provide intelligence information to members of the Point.
From Simmons Yussif Kewura, Tema