Gov’t Pays US$1M Due Forest Affected Communities

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The government, through the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), over the weekend made a settlement of US$1 million to forest affected communities across the country in compliance with the National Forestry Reform Law (NFRL) of 2006 and its attendant regulations.
The money, according to the FDA Management, came at the right time because it has helped to abort a planned violent action by members of those communities scheduled for today, July 20.
The government is mandated under the NFRL to remit 30 percent of revenue generated from area rental and administrative fees to the affected communities and 30 percent to counties. To date, the government has remitted US$753,000 to the counties and US$1 million to the affected communities. There will be an allotment in the current budget to settle the remaining obligations to these beneficiaries.
The current payment represents part of the 30 percent due them in line with the 2006 National Forestry Reform Law (NFRL) of Liberia and its attendant regulations.
At a press conference over the weekend at his FDA office in Whein Town, Monrovia, the FDA Managing Director, Harrison S. Karnwea, expressed relief over the government’s settlement which he said had helped to curb the planned violent activities by the affected communities.
“We have called you here to inform you and through you, the Liberian people, most especially the forest dependent communities, that the Government of Liberia has on today, July 17, deposited US$1 million in the Benefit Sharing Trust Account set up at the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) in favor of the affected forest communities of Liberia in compliance with the National Forestry Reform Law (NFRL) of 2006 and its attendant regulations,” Mr. Karnwea told journalists at his office over the weekend.
This issue has been contentious and the communities have threatened to start civil disobedience activities as of today.
But Mr. Karnwea said the government respects its citizens and cannot afford to be seen as disobeying the laws that were pronounced and passed by the government itself.
“In view of the government’s decision to comply with the laws, we now appeal to the forest-dependent communities that are affected by logging activities to refrain from any acts of violence and proceed to access these funds through the Benefit Sharing Trust Board that is responsible for the administration of the communities’ share of the revenue,” he advised the beneficiaries.
The FDA, Mr. Karnwea said, is grateful to the Communities for their patience and assures them that his administration would do everything possible to ensure that they do not have to issue threats again before future payments are made.
“We want to use this same medium to thank the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the President, Vice President and the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the efforts they exerted in making this possible,” Karnwea added.
Tension has reportedly been building up over the past weeks in the wake of threats by the forest-affected communities to stall logging activities should the government renege in remitting their 30 percent share by today, July 20.


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