The Liberian Timber Association (LTA) has rejected a recent letter of intent signed between the Government of Liberia and the Kingdom of Norway, surrounding the forest of Liberia.
At Press Conference held in Monrovia yesterday, the President of the Association, Mr. Rudolph Merab, said, “We are putting up a challenge to the Government of Liberia to prove to the Liberian people that means well for the good of the country by making the “Letter of Intent” public. Let the government put the content of the agreement in the public domain for a debate.”
Mr. Merab said the LTA wishes to state here that it is totally and wholly against the signing and the implementation of the Letter of intent by the two governments in manner and intent because the agreement was signed outside of the rules established under the 2006 NFRL and the agreement does not address the critical issues of companies which have signed a twenty-five year Forest Management Contract (FMC) with the Government of Liberia.
The LTA said the agreement seeks to use an outdated Executive Order (January 2013) to place a moratorium on several logging companies in the name of holding illegal Public Users Permits (PUP.
The LTA said the implementation of this agreement in its current form is not in the interest of Liberia and its future generations and the agreement is likely to generate more conflicts with local communities whose livelihood depends on forest resources thus opening a door for multiple legal actions against the Government of Liberia.
Mr. Merab said the agreement tends to deny community-related development such as roads, schools, clinics that are traditionally undertaken by logging companies in areas where government has not been able to undertake these developments.
LTA noted that for many years the private companies in the Forestry Sector had filled in critical development gaps in rural communities; reducing poverty and improving the standard of living of rural dwellers.
The LTA said it was sounding this caveat that it will not accept a repeat of the 2006 scenario where all concession agreements were illegally cancelled by anExecutiveOrder. “As this is anticipated with the current agreement, we are prepared and will leave no stone unturned in challenging the arbitrary cancellation of any concession agreement duly signed and rectified by this government,” The LTA President said.
“We want to make it crystal clear that while we acknowledge the critical importance of the global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emission from deforestation and forest degradation and protecting natural forests for the general good of humanity, we also want to recognize the fact that rich and industrialized nations of the world who are the greatest producers of greenhouse gas emission, are throwing out inadequate moneys to small and poor countries like Liberia pressuring them to preserve their forest at the detriment of their own people and their economic wellbeing,” The LTA said.
“Why don’t they stop producing and using fossil fuel which is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gasses?” the LTA quizzed.
LTA said it supports the global efforts for the reduction of greenhouse gas emission and will cooperate with all measures in which all parties and stakeholders are taking adequate actions in a fair and transparent means.
Meanwhile, the LTA is calling on the National Legislature not to rectify the Letter of Intent without an open public debate and that the government does not proceed with the implementation of the agreement because it is not in the best interest of Liberia.