4 January 2013

Liberia: Govt. Risks Losing 15m to PUP Moratorium

The Deputy Minister for Revenue at the Ministry of Finance (MOF) Dr. James Kollie says the Liberian government will lose between 12 and 15 millions United States dollars in revenues during the 2012/13 fiscal year.

On Thursday, January 3, 2012, the Government of Liberia (GOL) officially announced that it was suspending all activities of logging companies involving Private User Permits (PUP) owing to a discovery of a number of irregularities by a Special Independent Investigative Body (SIIB) constituted by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

But, responding to journalists concern about the loses government may incur due to the immediate suspension of PUPs to logging companies who squarely depend on this regulation or documentation for operation, Minister Kollie noted that the action will cost serious budgetary constraint for the successful implementation of the current fiscal year budget.

Hailing the Liberian Chief Executive for the stance taken on the issuance of PUPs, the Deputy Finance Minister asserted that MOF will have to go back to the drawing board in search of additional revenue sources to fill the void created by the President's mandate.

The 12 to15 millions United States dollars was appropriated to a number of items within the current budget relative to the forest sector, but the prevailing situation could leave the ministry with no other alternative but to reducing line ministries and agencies allotments if additional revenue sources are not identify in time.

Upon the receipt and subsequent review of a special committee report on allegations of gross violation of PUPs in the country, President Sirleaf has instituted a number of measures including the constitution of three new committees to prosecute and set new standards that will safeguard the nation's forest industry.

It can be recalled that in January 2012, a coalition of None-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) communicated with the management of FDA, raising concerns and or complaining of the alarming rate and scale of PUPs and flaws in its issuance.

In response to the coalition of NGOs concern, the Board of Directors of FDA in February 2012 placed a moratorium on the issuance of new PUPs and halted all activities under all existing documents of such.

Ironically, this moratorium was not upheld, as timber felling under PUPs still continued unabated, thus raising lot of public outcries, claiming the attention of President Sirleaf.

In response thereto, President Sirleaf on August 5, 2012 reinforced the FDA Board's moratorium and subsequently established the SIIB in September 2012 so as to investigate allegations related to the issuance of PUPs by FDA.'

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