Accra, 17 Oct, GNA - Professor Dominic Kweku Fobih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines on Monday appealed to operators within the timber industry to avoid wasting wood to improve their profit margins. He said the excessive waste in the system did not only put intense pressure on forests but it also resulted in the loss of raw materials base that could collapse the industry with associated negative socio- economic effects.
Prof Fobih made the appeal at the inauguration of a combined team of Boards of Directors in Accra of two of government owed wood processing companies under the Ministry of Lands and Forestry. The companies are Ghana Veneer Processing Company Limited and Ehwia Wood Products Company both in the Ashanti Region. Prof Fobih said the Ministry had observed that some timber operators, in their attempt to meet demands of the market had to produce more products and as such use more wood by depending on relatively cheaper but illegal source.
Prof Fobih said with the growing international concern for trade in illegal tropical timber, government has expressed commitment to the European Union's Action Plan for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT), as preliminary discussions were underway for voluntary partnership agreement.
"In view of this my Ministry together with the Forestry Commission had also initiated consultation with the stakeholders to establish a network of contact and initiate dialogue on the negotiation process", he added.
Touching on the two limited liability companies, the Minister said they had not been divested because they were still being used by government, as training grounds for skill development of operators in the timber industry.
He therefore called on the Board to contact the Ministry for any support when needed since achievements would be measured by how they would become competitive profit-making enterprises at the end of their term of the board members.
Mr James Ntim Amponsah, Board Chairman, Ehwia Wood Products, expressed gratitude on behalf of the members for their nomination and pledged to work hard to meet the expectations of the Ministry. He said although there were many challenges, the board saw them as opportunities to generate new ideas and with the hope that their term of office would lead to competitive profit making.