PUP Audit Recommends Dismissal of FDA Boss; Reprimand for Minister Chenoweth

 PUP Audit Recommends Dismissal of FDA Boss; Reprimand for Minister Chenoweth

[B]Monrovia [/B]- The General Auditing Commission (GAC) has released the report which is the first flash report borne out of the audit of the  Forestry Development Authority (FDA) issuance of Private Use Permits (PUPs) for the period January 2006 to April 2012 to the National Legislature and the President of Liberia recommending  among others, the dismissal of the managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority, Mr. Moses Wogbeh and the to Reprimand the Chairman of the Board of Directors Madam Florence Chenoweth who is also the Minister of Agriculture .

The audit was conducted under the Auditor General's statutory mandate as provided for under Section 53.3 of the Executive Law of 1972.

The report which copy is in the noted that the FDA was established in November 1976 by the Liberian Legislature, under Chapters 1 to 4 of the National Forestry Reform Law (NFRL).


The objectives of the FDA include among others, the establishment of a permanent forest estate made up of reserved areas upon which scientific forestry will be practiced; devote all publicly owned forest lands to their most productive use for the permanent good of all the people, considering both direct and indirect values; and to stop needless waste and destruction of the forest and associated natural resources and to bring about the profitable harvesting of all forest products while assuring that supplies of said products are perpetuated.


In the Report of the Auditor General released on 5 December 2012 signed by Deputy Auditor General Winsley Nanka, the GAC observed that the Managing Director of the FDA Mr. Moses Wogbeh, did not maintain a complete database of all PUPs issued by the FDA, therefore  determined the total number of PUPs issued by piecing together audit evidence obtained from the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME), FDA’s Board and Management, Land Commission (LC) and (LISGIS). This omission could lead to misuse of Liberia's forest resources without accruing any benefit to the Government and people of Liberia.


The GAC noted that  the FDA’s Board, as of February 18, 2012 and on the basis of a Presidential directive, instructed the FDA’s Managing Director Mr. Moses Wogbeh to place a moratorium immediately on the issuance of all PUPs; in collaboration with other stakeholders to develop a regulation and guidelines governing PUPs; to recall all PUPs, with the exception of four (4) PUPs extracting logs at the time; renegotiate all PUPs recalled in keeping with the Regulations to be developed; to ensure that property owners and companies wishing to operate PUPs are tax-free; and mandated to commission a compliance/award audit of all PUPs.


However, the Board's directive, according to the GAC was not complied with by the FDA’s Managing Director. The report noted  that non- compliance with FDA’s Board's directive constitutes a serious risk, as it denies assurance that forest resources of Liberia entrusted to its care would be exploited as contemplated under the National Forestry Reform Law of 2006.


The report indicated that the FDA could not provide any evidence to show that the holders of the PUPs had the technical and financial capacity to manage the forest sustainably. These omissions constitute a breach of Section 5.6 of the 2006 National Forestry Reform Law that governs the process. therefore the GAC recommend, among others, that the FDA’s Managing Director, Moses Wogbeh, and Board's Chairman, Florence Chenoweth,  be censured by the President for issuing PUPs without ensuring  due formulation of regulations governing the issuance of PUPs, a cardinal requirement of the 2006 National Forestry Reform Law on PUP.


Continuing, the GAC report  recommends that the FDA’s Board of Directors should be dissolved and reconstituted  for the issuance of PUPs without ensuring due formulation of regulations governing the issuance of the PUPs, as required by the 2006 National Forestry Reform Law, as well as its failure to provide strategic managerial oversight to govern the operations of the Authority. The reconstituted Board should ensure that a regulatory framework is developed in keeping with the 2006 National Forestry Reform Law.