Photo credit: Sam Moko
Prime Minister James Marape has ordered officials to halt the issuance of new logging licences until the 205 active ones have undergone "a comprehensive stock-take."
“We want to make more money for our country but at a sustainable rate,” he said during a visit to the PNG Forest Authority office in Port Moresby.
“This sector is a sleeping giant. We’ve been playing marbles (with it) for too long,” Marape said.
“I want you to recommend to the (forestry) minister through the board and MD (managing director) how best we can ramp up our production in this sector without compromising sustainability and good environment practises.”
Marape is also interested in learning how long the 205 permits have been active.
“And businesses not (owned by) landowner (companies) must have an element of downstream processing built into their business plan,” he said.
“(After) three years, I come to this place and I am very discouraged because we have not done much.
“There is no substantial progress in the downstream processing phase.
“No new license is to be issued. Let’s take stock of the 205 first. Inform stakeholders that the Government wants a serious placement on downstream processing.”
He requests that all already operating forestry-related firms submit their business plans on down-streaming to the Forest Authority.
“No more renewal of permits until this comes in. For those that do not have an association with downstream in their business plan, the State will exercise its right in the state marketing option that all logs cut will be put into our log ports.”
For every log that leaves the nation, a "corresponding Kina or dollar must come back into the country," he added, adding that Treasury will work on a regulation enforcing this.
“I may seem hard but I make no apology to anyone.
“It’s not just for Forestry. We will do the same for fisheries and agriculture.
“Gold, oil, and gas will follow the same process as well,” he said.
“Our resources have been plundered (with) minimum return to our country.”
Reference: Mauludu, Shirley. The National (8 September 2022). “PM halts logging permits”.