Thank you, Mr Speaker, for this opportunity to speak to the Motion on the Floor which is the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government for the year 2019.
Mr Speaker, the NPP Government, ably led by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, has placed so much importance on forestry development, and as such it has not relented on its efforts to develop this all-important sector.
Mr Speaker, in the year 2018, 303,447 hectares of plantation cover were established. Again, 2,942 hectares were also established in collaboration with the private sector.
Mr Speaker, the NPP Government, ably led by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, has done much to do away with the normal issue that is plaguing this nation, which is the issue of lack of maintenance.
Lack of maintenance is associated with almost all the sectors that we have in Ghana and the forestry sector is no exception. But Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has also decided that apart from
establishing new plantations, he would maintain the existing plantations that we have in the system.
Mr Speaker, as I speak, in 2018, 18,972 hectares of land plantation that were established previously have been maintained.
Mr Speaker, one area that has also plagued this nation is the issue of man's activities on the land; be it illegal farming, be it illegal logging, or illegal mining, popularly called galamsey. Mr Speaker, this has taken away most of our economic trees including the forest cover. If we go to the forest areas, some of our cocoa trees have been cut down.
Mr Speaker, the NPP Government has decided that apart from establishing new plantations and the existing plantation, it would also restore these degraded areas that have been caused by the activities of mankind. As I speak, in 2018, 1,841 hectares that were degraded has been restored to normalcy.
When we come to tree plantation, the Government, through the Forestry Commission, decided that they were not going to restrict themselves to only the forest areas. They decided to undertake a programme called “Amenity Planting Programme”, which specifically intends to have plantation in our urban areas and also tries to “green” our urban areas.
Mr Speaker, our schools, institutions along our routes and roads have been planted with trees. So far, 223,000 seedlings have been provided and a total area of 528.5 hectares have been covered.
Mr Speaker, the earlier speakers spoke about employment that has been created by the Forestry Commission. Mr Speaker, 60,000.00 youth have been engaged to
undertake these exercises that I am talking about. In 2019, the NPP Government, led by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo would continue with these good works that it has started.
Mr Speaker, in 2019, the Government, through the Forestry Commission, in collaboration with the private sector, would establish 25,000.00 hectares of forest plantation. Again, 40,288.00 hectares of established plantations would be maintained.
Mr Speaker, as I said about the activities of mankind, the Government would also focus on about 2,500.00 hectares of land to be restored to its normalcy. Together, we expect that about 13.3million seedlings would be provided and supplied for planting.
When it comes to land administration, the earlier speakers have already spoken much about it, but the focus has always been that the Government's focus of trying to turn around the processing of land within 30 days is still an issue.
As I speak, we have done much and we are almost touching that particular achievement. Through the Ghana Enterprise Land Information Systems, which has been rolled out in parts of Accra and which is focusing that we consolidated a central point of records, we hope that when this programme is completed, we would achieve this target of the NPP Government.
Mr Speaker, one area that has also plagued this nation is the issue of many laws that we have in the land sector. The players in the land industry, be it land administrators, land owners, lawyers, surveyors, estate developers and individual developers or prospective
developers always face the issue of which specific law to actually apply. As I speak, the Land Bill is with us, and the NPP Government is bent on passing this Bill into law in 2019.
When this Bill is passed into law, it would solve a lot of problems for us and consolidate all the laws we are talking about, so that the players in the land sector can focus on dealing with issues that come before them.
Mr Speaker, one area that falls under this sector is the stool Land Administration sector. This sector is responsible for collecting revenue meant for our stools and skins for their development and that of the District Assemblies.
Over the years, the Government has tried to improve revenue collection and since last year, the Government has set up many collection centres in the Districts.
Previously, their offices were centred in the regional administration and field district capitals. As I speak, the office is trying to establish offices in almost all the Districts, so that the collection points would be closer to the people.