The allocation process as stipulated in the law is transparent and includes safeguards to ensure checks and balances, but information on the process to verify applicants was not made accessible to the public prior to the award of timber concessions in 2008/2009. Documents on the bidding and pre-qualification evaluation from 2008 are available on the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) website, but not all documents are published. However, they can be obtained on request.
Due diligence reports had little impact on the allocations in practice; for example, none of the four large concessions allocated in 2009 met the minimum requirements. The UN Panel of Experts in its report of 12 December 2008 noted: “the due diligence committee found problems with all nine provisional winners of contracts. It found that none of the companies bidding on the three forest-management contracts had all of the technical and financial capabilities required by law and that there had been material changes in ownership of three companies, rendering their pre-qualification certificates invalid” (1). The contracts were nevertheless awarded, disregarding the findings of the due diligence process.
Furthermore, the large number of Private Use Permits (PUPs) agreed since 2010 have seemingly not been subject to any due diligence requirements. As the UN Panel of Experts reported in December 2011, the PUPs are "not subject to bidding, nor do they undergo due diligence, and their obligation or capacity to comply with regulations for benefit sharing and sustainable forest management are unclear" (2). It also notes that these permits may undermine the forest reform process. This has implications for the verification of the legality of forest products, which is fundamental to the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA).
(1) United Nations Panel of Experts on Liberia (2008) Report of the Panel of Experts submitted pursuant to resolution 1819 on 12 December 2008. Available at http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2008/785
(2) United Nations Panel of Experts on Liberia (2011) Final report of the Panel of Experts on Liberia submitted pursuant to resolution 1961 on 7 December 2011. Available at http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2011/757.
|Title||a. Public Procurement and Concession Act, 2005
b. National Forestry Reform Law, 2006
c. Report of the Pre-qualification Evaluation Panel established by the Forestry Development Authority, 4 January 2008