Participants pose for a group photo. Photo by Bounmee Maokhamphiou
(KPL) Representatives of a broad cross-section of government officers and stakeholders gathered in Vientiane on Feb 17 to review the draft Decision on Management and Monitoring of Timber Input and Output in Wood Processing and Trading introduced by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC).
When the decision enacted, the ministry will define the rules for operational control and the monitoring of compliance in 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 Director General of the Industry and Handicraft Department of the MoIC, Mr Manohack Rasachack.
“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 the Lao PDR,” he said.
Following the Prime Minister’s Order No. 15 dated 13 May 2016 on Enhancing Strictness on the Management and Inspection of Timber Exploitation, Timber Movement and Timber Business that strengthened the strict enforcement of timber laws 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 to assure that the timber industry moves forward in compliance with the laws of the Lao PDR.
This draft decision 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,” implemented by GIZ in February 2016.
The policy will include not only the process for monitoring the balance of timber input and outputs through 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.