EU Delegation Calls On Vice President Boakai

Friday, 27th March 2009
Monrovia, Liberia - Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has assured the Liberian Government's willingness to cooperate with any reform process that will be in the best interest of the country.

He observed that in the past, forest resources were mismanaged, noting that the Unity Party-led Government is committed to transparency in the use of the country’s natural resources.

Vice President Boakai made the observation on March 27, when a five-member European Commission delegation which is in the country for the launch of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement, paid a courtesy call on him at his Capitol Building office.

Agriculture Minister Dr. Chris Toe and the Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA),  Mr. John Woods accompanied the delegation headed by Mr. Lluis Riera, Director of Development Policy:
Thematic Issues at the European Commission, to Vice President Boakai’s office.

"We are happy. We never complain about reform. This Government is committed to doing the right thing, so we welcome reforms intended to improve and build our institutions," Vice President Boakai observed. He said logging operations in the country were suspended pending the establishment of relevant laws to ensure transparency.

The Liberian Vice President stressed the importance of reform in evolving a good system, but noted that the citizenry are too impatient, adding, "All they want to see is food, jobs, good roads and other things that they will immediately benefit from."

He said the process is also an opportunity for Liberia to learn and emulate the developed world.

Briefing the Vice President earlier, Agriculture Minister Toe said under the agreement,  timber produced by African countries meeting all ‘good governance’ requirements would have access to European markets under what is known as the Forest Law Enforcement and Trade Pact.

He said under the Voluntary Partnership Agreement, Liberia will agree to export only timber that meets all legal requirements like the Forestry Reform Law, Public Procurement Concessions Act, Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and the country’s labor laws.

The agreement also compels European markets not to buy timber that is not legal. The negotiations started March 26 and were completed the next day with key forestry stakeholders like the ministries of Justice, Agriculture, Commerce and Finance, as well as the National Investment Commission (NIC).

Also in remarks, the head of the EU delegation, Mr. Riera, said they were not going to “bend the will of the Liberian Government, but  would build on the goodwill of the Government," adding, “it is a matter of fine-tuning” statutes put in place by the Liberian Government.

He said the EU was willing to do the technical work, but would need the commitment and political will of the Liberian Government to obtain the desired results.

He assured that the European Union was committed to assisting Liberia in its recovery and renewal processes.