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25.10.2005 General News

Govt revises benefit-sharing arrangement - Fobih

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Accra, Oct. 25, GNA - The Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines on Tuesday said it had revised the benefit sharing arrangement of forest revenue from off-reserves from the previous 40:60 per cent for resource owners and government to 60:40 for resource owners and government. Professor Dominic Kweku Fobih, Sector Minister, who was taking his turn at the weekly "Meet the Press" series in Accra, said the new arrangement was as a way of sustaining community participation and interest in the management of the resource.

He said the Ministry was also setting up a committee to review the benefit sharing arrangement of royalties accruing from forest reserves, which is now 40 per cent to traditional authorities and 60 per cent to government.

Prof. Fobih said government was encouraging many more Ghanaians and foreign investors to go into plantation development as a core business through the approved benefit sharing formulae.

The formulae is 40 per cent for farmer, 40 per cent for government, 15 per cent for the landowner and five per cent for the local community in the case of those engaged in the Taugya plantation in degraded reserves.

For the commercial plantation in degraded reserves the investor is entitled to 90 per cent, six per cent is for the landowner, who is also entitled to ground rent, two per cent for the Forestry Commission and two per cent for the community.

He said in the case of off-reserve plantation by private developers, the formula was subject to the tenure arrangement with the landowners, while the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) plantation was subject to the payment of stumpage to the various stakeholders as required by law. The residual proceeds would be for the government.

Touching of the optimisation of revenue from the timber industry, Prof. Fobih said a competitive bidding process had been introduced as a means of ensuring fairness and transparency in the allocation of timber resources on the basis of price.

The Ministry, he noted, had so far conducted three successful competitive biddings, with the total bidding targeted income of 101.2 billion cedis. So far, the total money at hand was 43.1 billion with the rest outstanding.

Prof. Fobih said the Ministry was encouraging the development of eco-tourism through public-private partnership for which reason some of the national parks had been advertised.

He mentioned the Mole, Kakum and Ankassa resource areas as some of the advertised areas that interested persons needed to apply for operational licences.

Prof. Fobih said with the realisation that public funds were no longer adequate to sustain the pace and targets for large-scale commercial plantation development, discussions and engagement of a number of banking and non-banking institutions had been initiated with the view to accessing private capital for large-scale commercial plantation development.

"The Ministry is also evolving a scheme to operate a venture capital fund to ensure long term availability of other private sector funds to augment the above sources," Prof Fobih said.

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