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Timber Union rejects $150m deal

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The Liberia Timber Union Association or LTA has strongly rejected a US$150m forest deal recently signed between Liberia and Norway, demanding a public debate on the letter of intent. The LTA’s President Rudolph Merab, told reporters at Mamba Point Hotel in Monrovia Monday that they will not accept a repeat of the 2006 scenario where all concession agreements were illegally cancelled by an Executive Order.

He claimed that “rich and industrialized” nations which are the greatest producers of greenhouse gas emission are throwing out inadequate moneys to small and poor countries like Liberia, while pressuring them to preserve their forests. On September 23, the Governments of Liberia and Norway announced a US$150 Million deal at the UN Climate Summit in New York to halt the destruction of Liberia’s rainforest.

After signing the agreement, a dispatch said it was part of Norway’s plan to help cut carbon emissions globally through preventing deforestation in an effort to reduce the impacts of climate change.

But while acknowledging global effort to reducing greenhouse gas emission from deforestation, Mr. Merab wondered why industrialized nations won’t stop producing and using fossil fuel which he says is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gasses.

He fears that measures taken by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf led-government, which is being “hard-pressed” by foreign governments, have all been designed to shut the logging industry down under the pretext of preserving the entire forest here.  But he argued that such decision is made at the detriment of development in the forest communities, investors, business [people] and thousands of Liberians who are employed by the industry.

What he sees as regrettable is that neither the LTA nor its members or stakeholders were involved in any aspect of the negotiation and discussion of the letter of intent signed between the governments of Liberia and Norway “as enshrined in the 2006 National Forestry Reform Law.”

Mr. Merab vows that the LTA will leave no stone unturned in challenging the Liberia-Norway $150m forest deal, using the legal means to ensure that it is in the best interest of Liberians and the industry.

As such, he has already begun urging Legislators not to rectify the letter of intent without an open public debate, stressing, that the government must not proceed with the implementation on the agreement.

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