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Illegal lumbering costing Ghana dear: minister

Dauda said an estimated 84,000 people were engaged in illegal lumbering, mostly for want of an alternative livelihood.
by Staff Writers
Accra (AFP) May 29, 2009
Ghana could triple its revenue from timber by stamping out illegal lumbering, the lands and forestry minister said Friday, saying it was losing about eight million dollars (14 million euros) annually.

"The loss is twice the annual revenue collected by the government annually from the forestry sector," Collins Dauda told AFP.

"A country that is trying to increase its revenue base and reduce its huge budget deficit cannot afford to lose so much ..." he said.

The five-month-old government of President John Atta-Mills plans to increase its revenue and slash overall budget deficit to 9.4 percent of GDP this year from 14.9 percent in 2008.

Dauda said an estimated 84,000 people were engaged in illegal lumbering, mostly for want of an alternative livelihood.

"The government has no alternative than to declare a nation-wide war on illegal chainsaw operators not only because it is depriving the government of revenue but (also because of) the alarming rate at which the country's forest recourses are being destroyed," he said.

Ghana's forests cover one quarter of the land they covered 50 years ago.

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