4 January 2013

Liberia: U.S.$15 Million Lost in Revenue

Written by Varney M. KamaraYearning for greater say in matters relating to their welfare, Liberian youths Wednesday urged their leaders to practice transparency and accountability. The head of the Federation of Liberian Youths, Mohammed Nasser, told journalists at a

The new committee on the Public Use Permit submitted to president Sirleaf for the protection of the natural resources has indicted the Forestry Development Authority for failing to issue a regulatory framework under which PUPs operate.

Due to the failure of the FDA's to its statutory job led to "the evils that have led to abuse of the system," Acting Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh said at the regular Thursday weekly press briefing at the Ministry of Information.

"The FDA failed to promulgate the Regulations governing the issuance of PUPs, and that the senior management at FDA took advantage of the lack of Regulations in ways that were unconscionable, illegal and a violation of the public trust," President Sirleaf's appointed committee said in its report.

It added:

"That FDA failed to exercise due care and legal prudence in the review of documentation presented for PUPs.

"According to the Committee, most of the documents reviewed, showed errors in dates, signatures, Deeds, and associated documents. Some of the actions of FDA indicated culpability by officials of the FDA in cohort with individuals working for logging companies and communities."

Acting Justice Minister, Sannoh also announced the President's latest moratorium in Monrovia Thursday at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing, where he delivered a final report on behalf of the Special Independent Investigation Body established by President Sirleaf to look investigate PUPs' activities.

Government has vowed it will no longer condone illegal acts surrounding its forestry sector, and warned that more tough actions would come for would-be perpetrators.

Already, Minister Sannoh disclosed, President Sirleaf has approved several recommendations including the Declaration all PUPs issued by the FDA void as their issuance preceded promulgation of Regulation as required by the NFRL, or in the absence of Regulations; That the GOL revokes all PUPs for failure to comply with the National Forestry Reform Law; That an independent audit of the FDA be conducted and the finding of such audit be made public, and that the chairperson of the Board of Directors be suspended, and that the Board of Directors be reprimanded.

In view of the recommendations submitted to the President, Minister Sannoh noted, "That all logging companies involved in PUPs be suspended until the moratorium is lifted" Minister Sannoh quoted President Sirleaf as ordering.

Adding, "That appropriate administrative actions, including dismissals be taken against Government employees across every agency and ministry with connection to the forestry sector that have engaged in gross administrative misconduct and named in the report."

President Sirleaf also ordered that a full review of the legal and regulatory framework governing the management of community forest and private permits be undertaken so as to ensure that the intended reforms of the forestry sector as embodied in the NFRL and the CRL can be assured, amongst others.

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