Friday, June 5, 2009

Government to revive Plantation Development Fund

Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Lands and Forest Resources, has said government would revive the Plantation Development Fund, to enable it promote massive forestation, re-forestation and create job for the youth in country. He said the Board of Directors of the Fund was to be reconstituted and given new objectives to enable it function effectively. Alhaji Dauda said these when he visited some timber firms in the Brong-Ahafo region on Thursday.He said the Ministry was considering sending to Parliament a proposal for the allocation of a percentage of the Common and HIPC funds into the Plantation Development Fund.Alhaji Dauda said all districts would benefit from the re-forestation programme to increase vegetation cover, food production and create employment for the people, especially those in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions.He said that Parliament passed the Tree and Tim ber Amendment Act in 1994, to enable government to embark on forestation and reafforestation. Alhaji Dauda explained that under the Act, levies were imposed on timber firms that exported air dried timber to support commercial plantation. He said the Fund was created in 2000 but the Act was amended in 2002 and the commercial aspect of it was removed. Alhaji Dauda said at the initial stage, timber firms, which demonstrated the ability to embark on plantation were accessing the Fund and expressed regret that "when the commercial aspect was taken away from the Act those who did not belong to timber firms begin accessing the fund".He asked traditional rulers not to hesitate to provide lands to timber firms that intended to embark on forestation in their respective communities and urged security agencies and the public to assist to clampdown chainsaw operators.Alhaji Dauda observed that timber firms employed the chunk of the youth in the areas they operated and assured the firms of government's support to promote their businesses. Alhaji Dauda advised the timber merchants to explore the West Africa market.Some of the timber firms the Minister visited were Oti Yeboah Complex Limited at Abesim, near Sunyani, A.B.T.S in Berekum, Mim Scanstyle as well as Ayum Limited at MIM.Mr. Borrageiro Ronnie Managing Director of Mim Scanstyle expressed regret that the Volta River Authority had increased its power tariff to 150 percent, which was affecting the company's operations. He said businesses had also been affected by the international financial crisis, which had collapsed the exportation of furniture adding that the company was now producing doors for the local market. Mr. Oti Yeboah, Managing Director of Oti Yeboah Complex Limited, said the timber firm could boost of 5 million dollars from export per year.He said under the re-forestation project, the company had planted 600 hectares of teak and expressed concern about the activities of chainsaw operators.Alhaji Dauda and his entourage later visited the plant site of the Ahafo project of the Newmont Ghana Limited (NGGL) at Kenyasi where Mr. Randy Barnes, Manager External Affairs and Social Responsibility, briefed them on the processing of Gold.The Minister was accompanied by Mr. Ford Henry Kamel, Deputy Minister, Land and Forest Resources, Mr. Raphael Yeboah, Executive Director, Forestry Services Commission, Mr. Ben Aryee, Chief Executive Officer of Minerals Commission and Mr. Tabi Agyarko, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator, Ministry of Lands and Forest Resources.

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