On the 17th of February, a broad cross-section of government offices and other stakeholders gathered to review a proposed decision by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC) which, when enacted, will define the rules for operational control and compliance monitoring the timber supply chain for timber being moved into, out of, and between timber traders and processors.
“This chain of custody, or COC, is a documentation system for accounting the timber inputs and outputs of each operator from log landing 2 until it is sold into domestic consumer markets or until it reaches the point of export.” said Mr. Manohack Rasachack, Director General of Department of Industry and Handicraft (DOIH), MOIC. This COC system will show the source of the timber and track it through the operators who trade, transport, and process the timber to ensure that all timber products are in compliance with the laws of Lao PDR.
Following the Prime Minister’s Decree 15 in May 2016 that strengthened the strict enforcement of timber law and suspended all illegal timber trade activities, the FLEGT VPA (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade on Voluntary Partnership Agreement) process has worked to develop a system for assuring that the timber industry moves forward in compliance with the laws of the Lao PDR. This draft decision, titled the “Decision on Management and Monitoring of Timber Input and Output in Wood Processing and Trading” is an important part of that Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) and began development under the support of the German Development Cooperation’s project ‘Support to the Lao EU-FLEGT Process’ (ProFLEGT), implemented by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit), in February of 2016, even before the Prime Minister’s Decree 15.
The policy will include not only the process for monitoring the balance of timber input and outputs through the business operator’s records, but also clear mechanisms for monitoring agencies to inspect traders and suppliers and review their compliance. Operators that fail to comply with the mandatory COC system will be subject to punishment under the law, such as being fined, having the timber confiscated, or even criminal prosecution.
This meeting to review the Decision will be the first of many consultations with stakeholders before it is submitted to the Minister of Industry and Commerce for approval. When enacted, the implementation of the Decision will be under the responsibility of MOIC.
You can download the press release HERE