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Sunday, February 25, 2024

LIBTA PURSUES SRO STATUS, CONDUCTS PERCEPTION SURVEY

Date:

View of Participants at LibTA’s Validation Workshop on SRO

The Liberia Timber Association (LibTA) has embarked on a process to transcend into a Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) in a drive to consolidate its engagement and supervisory role as the prime representative of logging companies operating in Liberia.

The process of pursuing a Self-Regulatory statute began with LibTA conducting a nationwide survey among logging companies operating in the country to measure their interest to ascertain if they would prefer LibTA transcending into a Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO).

The overriding objective of LibTA seeking metamorphosis to SRO is aimed at among others pursuing logging companies who are yet to become members of LibTA to become full members to strengthen the membership base of the organization, to serve the interest of logging companies in bargaining with host communities and negotiations with government as well as to push for financial support from LibTA’s members for the smooth running of the organization.

With financial support from the Foreign Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) of Britain to the Nature and Development Foundation (NDF) and the Multi-Forestry Governance Accountability Program (MFGAP), LibTA was empowered with trickle-down funding that enabled it to conduct a perception survey among logging companies last month.

Following analysis of the survey, recommendations on the next step include a need to communicate with the private sector (logging companies) to reach a consensus on a common area of interest. Other recommendations are that study should be conducted among existing trade Associations with an example being Timber Development UK to understand standards, and modes of operation, among others; and that LibTA should look for models that will work best in the Liberian environment. Another recommendation is that the scope of areas to be covered should include marketing, interaction with members, and business linkages.

Additionally, the survey conductor recommended that Self-regulation should be part of multi-faceted structures supporting other measures taken by the government.

At the close of the presentation on findings and recommendations on the perception survey,  participants who attended the one-day validation workshop hosted by LibTA at the Methodist Compound in Sinkor Thursday proposed that another round of perception survey should be conducted by LibTA among logging companies to afford logging companies better understanding before answering the questionnaires.

The survey was the first step or process initiated by LibTA to gauge the views of logging company operators on the intention of LibTA to become a Self-Regulatory Organization; and this was followed by a legal study conducted by the Heritage Partners and Associations Law Firm on the legal ramifications to be considered in order for LibTA to transition to SRO.

In its summary conclusion of findings and recommendations on the SRO study, the Heritage Law Firm represented by Cllr. Nebalee Warner recommended the following: An SRO-styled organization is self-regulating through the means of establishing and enforcing internal rules on its consenting members, maintaining a complaint and dispute resolution mechanism, and ensuring that the sector operates at its optimum and with integrity.

It said the formation of SROs is not a new phenomenon to Liberia and it is a generally accepted mode for regulation of professionals and industries in Liberia.

The Heritage Law Firm said given the motivation of LibTA to organize into an SRO, it can further its objectives its current status as a recognized non-for Profit Organization.

The Private Law Firm said for LibTA to create and maintain itself as a viable SRO, it must ensure that the consent of more than 60 percent if not all of its members is obtained while providing value-added services to its members should be prioritized and that LibTA establishment of a relationship with the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and other stakeholders within the forest sector is inevitable in LibTA achieving and maintaining any kind of SRO status.

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