The NEWS (Monrovia)

1 February 2006

Liberia: SDI Wants Existing Forest Concession Cancelled

Monrovia — The Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) Monday launched a new report entitled: "Changing Faces" challenging the new government to implement reforms in the forest sector in order to demonstrate that it is different from its predecessor, the transitional government both in character and vision.

The group called on the government to implement the recommendations of the Forest Concession Review Committee starting with the immediate cancellation of all existing forest concession agreements as called for by Liberian civil society and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council in the Resolution 1647.

SDI among other things wants government bar all logging companies found to have violated any UN Security Council Resolutions on Liberia including the arms embargoes, supporting militias, aiding and abating conflicts or participating in or facilitating the arms for timber trade.

The environmental group also called on the government to commission an independent committee to review all existing natural resource related agreements in the mining sector including extraction, agreements and exploration licenses as well as mining permits.

Additionally, the group called on the government to demonstrate a real commitment to ending corruption in the natural resource sector by requiring the government to publicly disclose all expenditures and revenues.

Moreover, SDI wants the government implement substantive reforms in the natural resource sector to ensure that natural resource extraction is sustainable and equitable demonstrating a commitment to natural resource management, which benefits all Liberians.

At the same time, the group called on the international community to insist on the full implementation of the Governance and Economic Management Assistance Program (GEMAP) by the government of Liberia as a key measure for achieving economic recovery and curbing corruption in the public sector especially in the extractive industries.

SDI among other things called on the international community to provide adequate financial, technical and other resources to the government of Liberia to implement reforms in the natural resource sector to guarantee good governance of the country's resources, which are needed for the country's long-term economic and sustainable development.

The report also provides a summary critique of the MITTAL Steel Agreement with the government and called for an independent review of all existing natural resource related agreements.

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