The NUCFDC is demanding 30% shares of land rental fees paid by logging companies to the Liberian government and the land rental arrears owed by the logging companies goes to affected communities.
NUCFDC is a conglomeration of 23 Community Forestry Development Committees (CFDC) within seven Forest Management Contract (FMC), operating in nine counties comprising, (Lofa, Gbarpolu, RiverCess, Nimba, Grand Gedeh Sinoe, River Gee, Grand Kru and Maryland) as well as the nine Timber Sale Contracts (TSC) areas that are in (Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu counties.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, August 13, 2019, representatives from each of the member counties, NUCFDC Head of Secretary Andrew Y.Y. Zelemen, pointed out that the current GOL owes the communities more than US$3M aside from past arrears owed by companies during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
According to him, despite several engagements with the Forestry Development Agency (FDA) and the Ministry of Finance Development and Planning (MFDP), there has been no budgetary allocation made to address the problem.
“We see this call as timely and appropriate as the government gears up to approve the [2019-2020] national budget. On that note, we are challenging the government to do the following and do it as timely as possible to avoid further embarrassment,” Zelemen said.
“Not less than two million United States Dollars (US$2,000,000.00) is placed in the 2019/2020 National Budget for Affected Communities and one million (US$1,000,000.00) is transfer to the National Community Benefit Sharing Trust Board following the date of the passage of the 2019/2020 national budget into law or by the end of September 2019,” he stated.
Zelemen explained that from 2015- 2017, the former government under provided US$2,622,000.00 as part of the arrears the government owed affected communities from the land rental fees it collected since 2009.
He noted that the amount paid to communities enable them initiate and implement over forty (40) community projects including construction of schools, clinics, vocational training centers, road rehabilitation, guest houses, community halls among others.
Zelemen then mentioned that failure on the part of the GOL to address their demands will lead to unstoppable mass protest against logging activities until those concerns raised are address.
“Our next course of action if government fails to meet our demands, (NUCFDC) alongside our 230 members and officials of the 23 CFDCs within the 11 counties, and all members of the affected communities within these 11 counties will organize a peaceful mass protest calling for halt to all logging activities taking place in the affected communities. This protest, will begin October 2019, and will continue until all of our concerns raised here and other outstanding issues are timely and appropriately addressed by the Government of Liberia and logging companies” he maintained.