Kyiv (Ukraine), June 17, 2014. The EU funded FLEG II (ENPI East) Programme held a round table discussion on the issue of combating corruption in the forest sector in Ukraine at the World Bank office in Kyiv on June 12th.
The round table was devoted to identifying the causes of corruption in the forest sector and finding ways in overcoming them. Particular emphasis was placed on the need for changes in legislation. Active debate erupted for instance over the question of whether to establish state forest holding companies based on the Polish model. Another issue discussed was the advisability of separation (not formally, but in essence) of the economic, regulatory and political functions of the forest agency of the country.
The last 3-4 years trends show significant growth in production and exporting of raw round timber in Ukraine. Accordingly the overall domestic removals of growing stock are declining. The 2013 statistics indicates an annual harvest of wood products of 1.4 million m3 with the exports of 2.2 million m. This might suggests that the forest industry slipping into a parallel (grey) market trade.
Amongst those invited to participate were representatives of the State Forest Agency (Derzhlisagentstvo), the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food, the Ministry of Justice, the National Security Council, State Financial Inspection, the wood-processing industry, the public sector and the media.
In a recent conversation with a columnist from "Uriadovyi Kurier" ("Governmental Courier"), Valeriy Chernyakov, who was appointed head of Derzhlisagentstvo just two months ago, said:
"We understand that now we need to fight corruption, as transparently as possible, to gain economic benefits for the industry and the state. To combat the shadow timber turnover in Ukraine involves extensive activities, including the monitoring of illegal logging, the strengthening of institutions, tax and customs controls. The expected results have not yet materialised, due to the difficult economic environment, wood prices have fallen, and demand has declined. To overcome the crisis, we need to identify the main problems, and understand their causes."
Experts discussed the current anti-corruption measures in the field and voiced concerns over how the anti-corruption legislation today is applied in forestry. The economic and statistical aspects of corruption in the forest sector were addressed. Recent reports about the extent of corruption in the forest sector triggered extensive discussions.
All participants were pleased that the new president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko repeatedly emphasised the importance of overcoming corruption in the country, at his late inauguration on June 7th.
The results of this roundtable will serve as a guiding light for fighters of corruption in the forestry industry, for real reformers.