The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has strongly denied meeting with the Ghanaian Timber Association (GTA) as was reported in the Friday September 1, edition of a local daily 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 LTA and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) to officially ‘seal the deal.’
LTA president, Rudolph Merab is quoted by the paper as confirming the participation of the FDA in the alleged talks, something the FDA 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.
In a release, FDA managing director, Darlington Tuagben, confirmed receiving a series of communications from the LTA regarding the planned visit to Liberia by the Ghanaian Lumber Trade Association, but the FDA never hosted nor participated in any meeting.
Mr. Tuagben termed the statement as regrettable given its likelihood to undercut the good relationships 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 provide sustainable management to Liberia’s forest consistent with legal practices in the sector.
FDA management says its primary focus is to ensure that the forestry sector is fully capable of delivering on its core mandate as well as ensuring Liberia’s forests primarily benefit Liberians. This can be achieved 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, said Tuagben.
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 of 2006 are in place to guide the sector to avert the repetition of the Private User Permit (PUP) saga and illegal exploitation by following the Chain of Custody process on logging.
FDA emphatically states that there exists no agreement between the FDA and a delegation from Ghana on timber export. It however said the LTA 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.