(Business in Cameroon) - On December 15, 2020, Jules Doret Ndongo (Minister of Forestry), Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi (Minister of Public Works), and Ibrahim Talba Malla (Minister in charge of Public Contracts) signed a joint order setting the terms for the use of legal timber in public procurement in Cameroon.
"The use of legal timber should be checked before the public procurement files are constituted. The legality of the timber is a major criterion for rating the public procurement orders involving the use of timber and derived products. When the public contract in question involves the use of timber or derived products, the contracting authority must ensure that a representative of the Ministry in charge of forests is present among the members of the reviewing sub-committee," the interministerial decree informs.
Henceforth, economic operators engaged in building construction or public procurement procedures in connection with wood by-products will have to prove the legal origin of the wood used. The Ministry of Forests should ensure the availability of wood of legal origin and compliance with this provision when receiving the infrastructures or equipment the contract is issued for. The Ministry of Public Procurement is called upon to include this provision in tender documents and the Ministry of Public Works (as the State Engineer and Building Authority) will oversee the implementation of this measure.
At the end of the awarding process, the reception, the monitoring, and technical acceptance commissions (responsible for checking the use of legal timber after the process) will ensure the effective use of legal timber in the public procurement order as provided for in the contractual clauses.
"This economic text is a major step in the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement for the Legal Timber Trade (VPA-Flegt) in the country. The objective is to limit the impact of informal activities on the economic performance of the forestry sector. The State's objective is also to limit the import of timber products. This will boost the further processing industry that has, for over a decade now, been the weaker point of public policy," commented the communication unit of the ministry of forests.
Meanwhile, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through its FAO-EU Flegt program, access to legal timber remains a major constraint for the development of SMEs in the timber processing sub-sector in Cameroon.
"The proportion of sawn timber coming from legal sources and supplying the domestic market is estimated at only 27% of the total volume of timber in circulation in markets of the country's main cities. The remaining 73%, therefore, represents the volume of illegal wood supplied to the domestic market and its operators," FAO revealed in a note published in September 2020.