Court stops parties from interfering with logging

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A COURT has restrained the PNG Forests Authority (PNGFA), National Forests Service (NFS) and the State from interfering with the day-to-day logging operations of National Forest Products Limited operating in Bulolo, Morobe.
Justice Oagile Dingake granted the restraining orders against the defendants pending the determination of the substantive case.
Justice Dingake also ordered the plaintiff to serve all court documents to the defendants yesterday.
National Forest Products (NFP) Ltd filed an originating summons seeking declaratory orders from the court to restrain the defendants from breaching any terms and conditions of the Bulolo project agreement.
NFP successfully took out ex-parte orders yesterday at the National Court in Waigani after lawyer Allan Mana convinced the court that there was urgency in the matter.
He said in his submission that Finance Secretary Dr Ken Ngangan wrote on April 6 to five commercial banks and advised them to close all of PNGFA bank accounts that were held by
the commercial banks and the Bank of Papua New Guinea.
Mana submitted that the main issue was that in closing these accounts, staff salaries operational funding, royalties and levies, and resource area rentals would not be paid.
“The company will be forced to close operations resulting in over 1000 employees becoming redundant and over 5000 Bulolo inhabitants incurring severe hardship due to the loss of employment opportunities,” Mana submitted.
He said the NFP was reliant on its harvest volumes and would suffer enormous financial losses if harvest volumes were restrained for any reason.
He said the defendants were “in a cash situation and have to resolve their own issues”.
Mana said NFP held a current timber permit and has consistently complied with all terms and conditions of the Bulolo project agreement since May 10, 1996.
He said the company had complied with the terms and conditions of the agreement for the past 22 years.
The agreement is for 35 years.
The matter returns to court on April 24 for a full hearing of the application.

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