‘Calculated Ploy, Misrepresentation Of Facts’ -FDA Sharply Reacts To Daylight Publication

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The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has sharply reacted to the Daylight story published in the April 26, 2024 edition of the Front-page Africa newspaper under banner headline,” FDA APPROVES EXPORT of ILLEGAL TIMBER VALUED NEARLY US$1M” terming the publication as yet another intentional misrepresentation of the facts and a predetermined ploy maliciously designed to the beamer the good image of the entity and its new leadership led by Mr. Rudolph Merab.  The FDA said  it’s quite aware of the Daylight’s traditional style of making up stories against the FDA merely to suit the taste of its external or internal sponsors whose aim is to castrate the good image of the FDA and make it appear ghostly in the eyes of the public.  The FDA categorically maintained that the story is grossly misleading since it was structured based on inventory data only to analyze Export Permit thereby misrepresenting the facts. The FDA had earlier given the Daylight a full response to all the questions it had inquired but regrettably, the paper ignored the facts provided only to publish what it had pre-planned. The FDA terms the publication of the Daylight as not only grossly unprofessional but an act designed to create artificial dark clouds over the FDA and the government as a whole.  The FDA clarified that the export process is very long and technical saying, “The government has a third-party Verifier which happens to be a group called SGS, a Swiss Integrity company. The SGS signs Export Permits (Export Permits) which Daylight has labeled as illegal. The FDA  also said given its current pressing role as far as implementing the government’s ARREST agenda is concerned at this critical national endeavor to lift the country from the dungeon, it will never yield to what it called calculated distraction often created by the Daylight news organ which it believes has no understanding of the process but only takes pleasure in writing negative stories to make a living. FDA says moving forward it will not waste precious time responding to queries on Export Permits.

 FDA Managing Director, Rudolph Merab said he is aware of the traditional role being played by the Daylight as a paid agent who is being used as a tool to always paint the FDA black. He said the FDA under his watch is not deterred and will not allow itself to be dragged by detractors, one of which happens to be the Daylight. “In the soonest possible time when the public shall have come to realize the progress we are making, the Daylight will only be seen as irrelevant,” he said,” adding,” My team is highly professional and is robustly set to make the desired changes as per the expectation of the government and international partners. FDA considered breaking through the Liber Trace system and bringing out an Excel file without knowledge of its running as criminal. The current management of the FDA said it will not allow anyone with the sinister motive of destroying the image of the institution to succeed during this administration. The Merab’s leadership will do everything humanly possible in strengthening and rebranding the governance of the forest sector. Below are the FDA’s responses to the inquiries that were not mentioned in the FPA’s Friday publication;  Daylight question #1:Can you explain why you approved the export with more than 50% of the logs red-flagged by the system? FDA Answer# 1: When the logs in the system are flagged red it does not make the logs illegal. The error message could occur for minor and major traceability issues which are normally corrected during the different stages of verification. The system is only drawing your attention to a situation that needs to be verified, corrected, and rejected.  Daylight question # 2.Why some logs had been declassified from class A to class B or C species and others declared lower lengths?  FDA answer # 2: The shipment or logging process involves several steps and during these steps, the following could occur; inventory is all about the estimation of species, diameter, and height because inventory data are estimates. Felling is about the confirmation of species, measurement of diameter, and length; confirmation or validation of the same is done during the log yard and export inspection.  Daylight question#3.Why some of the trees felled did not meet industry standards as they were either not found in the inventory of the resource area, did you see that before okaying the shipment? FDA answer #3. During their block inspection activities, LVD has the right as per the SOP to add trees not declared by operators during inventory verification.  Daylight question# 4. Why some of the logs did not have GPS coordinates in an inventory or resource area?  FDA answer# 4. GPS coordinates are mainly important for the resource area and block location from where the tree is felled. Therefore, any GPS coordinate messages in the export analysis do not have any influence on the approval of the logs in the export permit as long the stump can be found in the approved block. For this, we called the process Chain of Custody. It traces the logs from the stump to the point of export and at the final destination. “There is no tree without a stump”. Whenever Export Permits are submitted they could be rejected several times for corrections. Corrections done could be removed and logs could be flagged by the system. In this case, this Export Permit was rejected for corrections by the FDA and subsequently resubmitted by the company.  Daylight question # 5.We learned that West Water owes Nimba and Grand Bassa communities in land rental, cubic meters, and other fees. FDA answer #5. We confirmed that West Water has tax liabilities. However, LRA is the lead determinant of tax obligation. From our records in Liber Trace, we invoiced West Water 885,687.49 and they have paid 826,367.50 with a balance of 5931950 in liabilities. All of these invoices and payment records were officially presented to you. Again you intentionally ignored. The FDA says with all of the answers provided by the Managing Director through the emailed exchanges, (you), the publisher elected to ignore them instead, you chose to write a fabricated story against the institution. The FDA is however encouraging investigative reporters to visit the offices of the FDA for a practical demonstration of the Chain of Custody Information System (COCIS) to understand how the system works and the different layers of verification, different types of data, and how they are analyzed. The FDA says the forestry sector is a professional place where a reporter or any investigator will need basic knowledge before conducting an investigation.

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