The Liberia Timer Association (LibTA) in collaboration with the Liberia Chain Saw and Timber Dealers Union (LICSATDUN) with support from its international partners has officially launched what it termed building the capacities of Small-Medium Force Enterprise (SMEs) for legal timber transaction in Liberia and Ghana.
According to the organizers, the objective of the initiative is to contribute to the improvement of the forest governance and promote legal timber trade in West Africa.
LibTA asserted that the project is expected to run through a period of 22 months in Liberia. LibTA named Bassa, Nimba, Rivercess and Bong as counties which will benefit from the project in a specified period.
According to the head of the Secretariat of LibTA, E. Ekema A. Witherspoon, I., the project, financed by the United Kingdom-aid through its government under the forest governance, markets and climates programmer, is put at 79,857 British pounds, of the British people tax payers' money.
The LibTA head of secretariat said their jobs is to build the capacity of LibTA's Executive Committee members and member companies on the VPA legality matrix, as well as on the Liberia Extractives Transparency Initiatives (LEITI) as a barometer for transparency and accountability.
Speaking further, Mr. Witherspoon pointed out that the project is intended to legally trade timber and forest governance in West Africa.
He averred that there are four outputs of the project which one and two will be taken care of by Nature Development and Foundation (NDF), while output three will be handled by Kumasi Wood Cluster (KWC) and output four will be jointly implemented by LibTA and LICSATDUN with a number of activities implemented.
Also speaking was the Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), C. Mike Doryen, who officially launched the project.
The Liberian Forestry Boss commended their international partners for the initiative and stressed that a nation can be rich but its resources can lead to conflict which may as well lead to poverty by authority if not equally shared across the country to benefit its citizens.
He said what is more important is how a nation can manage its own natural resources, something which will see it prospering by changing the conditions of its inhabitants.
"Sometimes you have bad governance structures that will sideline the issue of accountability and leads to failure, or sometimes you can have good governance but you may be victims of what is referred to as disease and when you overly relied on your primary resources and neglect the other sectors of the economy," Mr. Doryen intoned.
According to him, once the prices of those resources fall locally or internationally, the nation will be unable to meet the expectation of its people.
He noted the survival of the nation's natural resources is good as they put all of the necessary systems into place that will help government to properly manage its resources in the timber and other sectors as well.
He avowed that it is of no use for one to board a ship just to take his or her log to China and other parts of the world when they can trade those products right in the West African region or Africa at large. The FDA Boss therefore called for smooth working relationship amongst countries in the sub-region.
"We need to learn how to manage our resources because they can finish, so they have to be managed properly, and as a nation, it is about time that we shift our attention to exporting. And against this backdrop, I now declare this project officially launched in both Liberia and Ghana"
The FDA MD also noted that the launch of the project is to ensure that timber products exported to the outside world are legal by meeting international standards.
For his part, acting president of Liberia Timber Association (LibTA), Jihad Y. Akkari, termed the launch of the program as an initiative that seems to signify the beginning but in actuality, it is the accumulation of lots of work that were done behind the scenes by people whose actions, directly or indirectly, led to the launch of the occasion.
He, at the same time, indicated that the program, supported 100% by the UK - aid under its FGMC' facilities, will be executed in Liberia and Ghana over a period of 33 months, thus using almost millions of British pounds of the British taxpayer's money, with the Liberian portion lasting for 22 months.
Akkari said LibTA believes that the project will improve member companies and technical secretarial and abilities to carry out their respective functions well as enhancing the overall image of the forest sector in Liberia.
He also urged his colleagues to do all they can individually and collectively to ensuring that the maximum value for money is derived from the execution of the project.
"This UK-aid funded project can and should be seen as a catalyst for and assisting and ensuring the overall development and investment of the forest industry in Liberia considering the great potential that we all know that exists within the sector as well as the numerous benefits that could be derived from this project," Mr. Akkari narrated.