51 containers labelled Rosewood--a banned timber specie-- have been intercepted and detained by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) at the Tema Harbour.
According to Mr Kwesi Ahiakpor, Chief Revenue Officer, Customs Division, GRA, the containers containing the wood specie were about to be shipped for export when he ordered that the goods required a proper examination before they could be loaded on the ship because exportation of Rosewood was banned.
However, Mr Ahiakpor said, upon examination, it was discovered that some of the containers contained Papao wood which was allowed for export.
Mr Ahiakpor said the exporters had apparently deliberately mislabelled the documents on the containers to avoid paying the appropriate taxes in relation to the export prices of the two wood species.
He said all the container loads, including the exportable species, would be confiscated to the state for false declaration
The export price of Rosewood is US $ 600 which attracts a lower levy as against Papao which is sold at the export price of US $ 920.
These came to light when the Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mrs Barbara Serwah Asamoah, accompanied by officials of the Forestry Commission and Customs officials went on a fact-finding mission to the Tema Harbour on Friday.
Meanwhile, another container load of the consignment on a KIA Truck with registration number GN 2997-12 is also being detained at Customs Division of the Kotoka International Airport.
Mr Charles Sabblah, Assistant Commissioner and sector Commander, Customs Division, Headquarters, said this container was heading towards Aflao when it was intercepted at Dawhenya.
Mr Sabblah said documentation showed that the total number of containers was 57 and that if 51 were at the Tema Harbour, then six of the containers had as yet not been located.
According to officials of the Forestry Commission, the solution to avoiding alterations and false declarations was for all exporters to be hooked on to the Ghana Community Network Services Limited (GCNET) which operates an electronic system for processing trade and customs documents in Ghana.
Until recently, Rosewood timber was used locally but the growth of markets in Asia, particularly China, has led to the excessive exploitation of the specie.
To reverse this trend and protect the integrity of our environment as a whole, the harvesting and exportation of Rosewood timber was banned in the country, effective January 1, 2014.
The decision to ban the timber specie was reached by Cabinet after its 11th meeting held on Friday, September 21, 2013 on the indiscriminate felling and export.
Alhaji Fuseini, a former Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, who announced the ban, said the Forestry Commission had been charged to enforce the ban from the said date and ensure that the ban was brought to the notice of the timber industry while steps were taken to sensitize the general public at large.
Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)