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26.01.2006 General News

HIPC plantations to be FC's by January ending

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Akyawkrom (Ash), Jan. 26, GNA - The Government is to transfer a total of 17,000 hectares of development plantation to the Forestry Commission (FC) for further development, management and control by the end of January 2006.

Mr John Otoo, acting Chief Executive of the FC who announced this said, all the plantations being transferred to the FC were those funded under the HIPC funds.

Mr Otoo announced this in an address read for him by Mr. Henry Atta Paidoo, Resource Director of the FC at the opening session of the second delegates' congress of the House Union of the FC of the Timber and Woodworkers Union of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) at Akyawkrom near Ejisu on Thursday.

The two-day congress is under the theme, "Forging Ahead In Unionization 2006".

Mr Otoo said in order to facilitate and enhance development works on the plantations being transferred to the FC, Parliament had approved of 50 billion cedis for the continuation of works on the HIPC plantations by the Commission.

He said plantation development was a key component of forestry and therefore appealed to all workers irrespective of whether in the field or at the office, to contribute positively to the success of development of the plantations.

"If we succeed, we shall have the support of our partners, but if we fail, we shall no longer get the support of the government, Parliament and even donors and worse of it all, our jobs will also be at stake", he added.

Mr Otoo was not happy about the indiscipline amongst some workers and made it clear that the FC has this year embarked on a "Discipline Crusade" to ensure that the Commission succeeds in its mission to revamp the country's forest resources.

He said any worker with proven evidence of having engaged in malpractices would this time round not only "have his appointment terminated but will also be prosecuted".

Mr Justice Asare, House Union Chairman, (Local Chairman), cautioned workers of the FC who indulge, connive and condone with some stakeholders to cheat the system "to repent and do the right thing now". He said such a complete change of attitude and transformation had become necessary because there are a host of complaints from various quarters about the operation of the department in particular, helping to cheat the system.

Mr. Asare said; "we should not create bottlenecks in the process of our work for our clients to give us money before we respond to their quest or attend to them since that runs contrary to the mission of the FC".

Mr. Joshua Ansah, General Secretary of the Timber and Woodworkers Union of TUC, expressed concern about the spate of lay-offs of workers at timber firms and the closure of most firms under the guise of shortage of raw materials, and appealed to the Government to step in and address the situation.

Mr Ansah said it was morally wrong for Government to look on when companies carry out such lay-offs when it had declared an era of Golden Age of business in the country.