In furtherance of Golden Veroleum Liberia’s quest towards ending rural poverty and providing long-term employment, the company has hired 60 persons in its Grand Kru development area. The new employees all of whom hail from Po-River-Garraway administrative district was employed as a result of the Aug. 22, 2014 memorandum of understanding and incorporating social agreement (MOU) signed between the company and local citizens.
The recent employment opportunity totals 1,200 persons employed by GVL so far in in the area. As it develops additional land and expands to other areas, GVL maintains that it would employ more Liberian citizens. To date, the company has an employment base of over 3,600 Liberians whose benefits range from free housing, medical, education and food, and salaries, which are on average fives time the national average. The company, which has an investment agreement of 65 years projects it, will employ up to 40,000 when fully developed thus ensuring successful investment and meeting communities’ expectations.
At the same time, GVL has extended an invitation to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to sustained fieldwork and dialogue with the company and the local communities of South East Liberia. GVL is Liberia’s largest employer with more than 3,600 jobs providing wages, which are five times the national average, and benefits, after signing direct agreements with more than half-a-dozen communities and clans for the development of oil palm farms.
The company recognizes the Liberian communities as the true owners and decision makers of their land and therefore practices the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) principle in its engagement with all communities. GVL adheres to environmental standards and practices that go beyond the principles of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), including a commitment to no-deforestation through a High Carbon Stock (HCS) approach. GVL practices an open information policy, providing company documents, procedures, community agreements and community information for public sharing, both in community meetings, as well as, on the GVL website and Facebook pages.
Today, the company continues to be invited for partnerships to develop land by more communities than it is possible to work with in. GVL further continues to welcome constructive, open and direct dialogue and discourse. Against this background, the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) has published a press release titled “Harmful Social and Environmental Impacts of Liberia Palm Oil Project Exposed” and an accompanying report.
Regrettably, the report lacks a real and current understanding of the communities of the South East Liberia, and of how the company works with them. The authors have not participated in sustained fieldwork with the communities for the past 1.5 years or more. Out-dated information is presented as current facts.
The report does not go beyond vague descriptions of statements and generalities. The authors consistently quote only anonymous or unnamed sources. The report highlights only selectively picked views and quotes, while excluding others. In particular, it omits any broad community view, which would provide a more accurate reflection of GVL’s operation and its relationships with communities.
In its analysis of the Concession Agreement, it selects and quotes specific clauses without providing context and qualifiers, thus providing a misleading interpretation. These failures raise questions on the report’s reliability and objectivity. The report has been issued to interfere with RSPO’s own direct findings in Liberia.