The Government of Liberia has signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union to boost and strengthen the country's forestry sector. The agreement was signed by Ambassador Tina Intelmann, Head of the European Union delegation and Sister Mary Laurene Browne, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Forestry Development Authority during a press conference at the Monrovia City hall on Friday, April 7, 2017. The Voluntary Partnership Agreement aims to improve forest governance, address illegal logging and promote trade in verified legal timber products from Liberia to the European Union. Speaking at the press conference, Ambassador Intelmann said the European Union has played an enormous role in helping Liberia to build the forestry sector, adding that it is time for the country to take a complete control of its forest and begin to fund it. “The European Union has helped Liberia to setup a mechanism before exploiting the forest, and before getting revenue from it. And it's now time for Liberia to take over and start funding it," she said. "During this joint committee meeting at this handover, funding has been discussed and there is a very strong understanding that before the next fiscal budget is being implemented, the discussions have to go on about the issue of forestry." She expressed gratitude for the partnership agreement and used the occasion to call on the government to reinforce the legal framework setup by the joint committee to strengthen the forestry sector. “The legal frameworks we have setup have to be reinforced and the joint committee has set a particular target for it. We are glad about the process and the progress been made, but of course we have agreed that more technical meetings need to be held to make sure that the deal is implemented," she added.Also speaking, Mary Laurene Browne, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Forestry Development Authority said the voluntary partnership agreement with the European Union is meaningful and cannot be one sided, noting that it is time that Liberians take the initiative and responsibility to continue the process.
Source: Front Page Africa