The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has strongly denied meeting with the Ghanaian Timber Association as was reported in the Friday September 1, 2017 edition of the Frontpage Newspaper under the caption: “Liberia to supply Ghana Timber after Depleting Forest.”
According to the paper, a five-member Ghanaian delegation was recently in Liberia and held talks with the Management of the FDA and key stakeholders including the Liberia Timber Association (LTA) and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) to officially ‘seal the deal’.
The President of the Liberia Timber Association (LTA) Mr. Rudolph Merab is quoted by the paper as confirming the participation of the FDA in the alleged talks, something the Management terms as regrettable and a clever attempt to taint its image. The story further quoted Mr. Merab as blaming the Government of Norway for undermining the logging sector and thus stalling economic growth of the country.
The Managing Director Mr. Darlington Tuagben said although he received series of communication from the office of the LTA regarding the planned visit to Liberia by the Ghanaian Lumber Trade Association, the FDA never hosted nor participated in any meeting.
Mr. Tuagben termed the statement as regrettable given its likelihood to undercut the good standing relationship between the governments of Liberia and Norway and by extension, the FDA. He noted that FDA stands prepared to support any or all forestry related initiatives aiming to sustainably manage Liberia’s forest and consistent legal practices in the sector.
Management says its primary focus is to ensure that the forest sector is fully capacitated to deliver on its core mandate as well as ensuring Liberia’s forests primarily benefit Liberians through equitable benefit sharing, development of local communities, fostering improved partnership with communities to manage the forest estate and pursue more sustainable means of production locally.
The Management emphasized that policies and laws such as the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) and Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) as well as the National Forestry Reform Law, 2006 are in place to guide the sector to avert the repetition of the PUP saga and illegal exploitation by following the Chain of Custody process on logging.
Management emphatically stated that there exists no agreement between the FDA and a delegation from Ghana on timber export. It however said the Liberia Timber Association is free under the law to pursue partnership aimed at enhancing the sector. It emphasized that the FDA remains focused on promoting value addition to our resources domestically before export.