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30.07.2004 Business & Finance

Timber Utilization Contracts under way

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Accra, July 30, GNA- About Fifty companies on Friday went through a competitive bidding process for the allocation of Timber Utilization Contract (TUC) in areas of with natural forest.

The bidding procedure conducted by the Forestry Commission in Accra was in line with Act 617 and its enabling legislation LI 1721, which replaced the concessionary acquisition.

Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands and Forestry in a pre-bidding speech said the objectives of the new system of allocation were to enhance the benefits from the resource for all beneficiaries, including landowners, the forest communities, industry and the nation as a whole, while still sustaining the benefit flow.

He said the new system was also to ensure that the process was accepted by the participating companies, landowners, traditional rulers and observers.

"The process prevents people from accusing and counter accusing government officials and other state functionaries of favouring some companies above others", he said.

The Minister said the procedure ensured that both loser and winner left the bidding hall well aware that the rules had been objectively and transparently applied and that the winner was determined purely on rules.

Prof. Fobih said the 17 companies that won the bids of the first phase of the TUC bidding, held on May 30, this year, have been issued with notice of grant for timber rights and were in the process of fulfilling the requirements for the preparation of the contracts. Sixty-nine TUC lots in the natural forest were advertised in the dailies for bidding in the early part of the year, but had to be spilt into two phases for administrative connivance.

The first phase carried out in May, had 28 TUC areas put on offer whilst the second phase had the remaining 41 TUC areas and others bringing it to a total of 48.

Prof Fobih said the continuation of this competitive system of allocating the timber resource was a sign of government's commitment to good governance, transparency and equity.

He said the problems encountered in the previous bidding were still receiving attention at both the Forestry Commission and the Ministry.

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