Companies warned to pay up

Walter Schnaubelt

FOREST Minister Walter Schnaubelt has warned timber operating companies in Papua New Guinea to immediately pay their outstanding levies and royalty payments to both the landowners and the Government.
Schnaubelt sounded the warning following failure by most companies and operations to meet their obligations under various agreements.
“They are fully aware of the legal ramifications associated with non-compliance of their legal obligations as stipulated under the agreements and the underlying laws of the country governing the forestry sector,” he said in a statement. Schnaubelt said many companies were not new to the fact that they had to abide by the legal requirements of the operating and export sales agreements.
“These companies have signed agreements with the landowners and the State to pay various parties on time,” he said.
“Many have not complied with the provisions of their respective agreements under which they operate and therefore have outstanding payments.”
Schnaubelt called on operators to take action and pay their outstanding amounts.
“This is critical to the economy,” he said.
“That is why we cannot allow such serious fiscal anomalies to undermine the revenue flow and foreign exchange earnings for the country through the forestry sector.”
Schnaubelt said landowners and communities needed to be remunerated.
“Considering the landowners were mostly rural or remotely based and had difficulty accessing Government services, the needed to be paid their royalties from the resources harvested from their land,” he said.