Authorities of Golden Veroleum-Liberia (GV-L) have taken exception to a report the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) released on the company’s conduct in Liberia, especially with regard to handling the environment.
SDI works in partnership with Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Friends of the Earth United States High Risk.
GVL’s statement, released over the weekend, noted that the management has made efforts to work in the confines of the country’s laws, specifically regarding forest management.
While the 65 year Concession Agreement signed by GVL and the Government of Liberia in 2010 does allow for a gross total of 350,000 hectares, due to GVL’s commitment to forest protection and community engagement, the company anticipates that the planted area will be smaller.
According to the statement, 17,000 hectares have been planted in GVL’s operational areas in Sinoe and Grand Kru counties.
On the issue of the Concession Agreement, the release said GVL has undertaken “Free, Prior and In-formed Consent (FPIC) processes with communities in the area to develop palm oil.
“Development only proceeds with the agreement of communities identified and confirmed through a memorandum of understanding (MoU),” the release said.
“The MOU ensures community rights are protected and identifies sacred sites and other areas of value such as forest areas set aside for conservation use,” the statement said.
GVL also said that it has and will continue to work closely with community leadership to resolve conflicts, especially in relation to land disputes and to deliver job opportunities, infrastructure and livelihood benefits to communities in the Southeastern region through oil palm development.
The SDI recent report claimed that GVL is avoiding taxes, a claim GVL denies, responding that, “we pay land lease taxes to the government and the community as per the land lease law.
“Having previously investigated and disproven earlier allegations of land clearing based on information provided by authors of the report, the final report published July 2, includes additional allegations and details that GVL will review and investigate thoroughly in line with its grievance procedure,” said the statement.
Meanwhile, the company said it welcomes constructive criticisms and takes seriously allegations of inappropriate behavior of breaches of its policies on the concession agreement.