Who’s Undermining FDA

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted May 7, 2004

Wonder will never cease. Despite cogent efforts by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in its reforms programs, credible reports say there are frantic moves within the international corridor of power to hijack the role and function of the Forestry Development Authority(FDA) and replace same with another organization, Liberia Forest Initiative.

Already, reports of an initial amount of US$1million raised under the FDA road map project has been redirected.

The UN Security Council has imposed sanction on the Liberian timber since July 2003 for lack of transparency and accountability in the industry.

Upon coming into office of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, the Charles G. Bryant administration knowing the importance of the forest sector, put together a commission with the mandate to develop programs for the lifting of the sanction come May 2004.

This report gave birth to forest sector reform road map developed at a workshop attended by stakeholders in the sector. That workshop was sponsored by the US Embassy near Monrovia. That road map was presented at the New York’s donor conference and the US government pledged an initial amount of US$1 million, which report said have gone in the wrong pocket. As a result of the road map, a source close to NTGL said that the FDA management toured its regional offices, awaiting fund for renovation and subsequent deployment of staff in the forest areas.

Presently, concession agreements have been reviewed and workers continue to report to work daily in the absence of fund and the lifting of the sanctions, our government source said.

According to our source, it is highly regrettable to learn that the initial US$1m pledged by the US Government which could help the FDA to commence renovation work at the various regional offices as well as the resettling its war-affected employees, has been diverted and spent on assessment team from the USA, including Conservation International and the Liberia Forest Initiative.

FDA Managing Director D. Eugene Wilson who is under immense pressure from the authority’s Board of Director to explain circumstances surrounding the issue, told reporters that he has not received a penny but said an investigation has been launched into the matter.

In its reports, the UN Panel of Experts recommended steps be taken by the international community to address the humanitarian plight of the several thousand forestry workers who could become jobless upon the coming into effect of the timber sanction. No program has been developed yet as these people have remained without jobs since July 7, 2003.

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.