New log policy puts jobs at risk


THE Government’s plan to ban log exports is fundamentally wrong, will cost jobs and will damage the country’s economy, says the PNG Forest Industries Association.
It pointed to a grave “error of arithmetic” in the office of the Forestry Minister Douglas Tomuriesa for proposing the ban that is to be implemented in phases.
On Feb 11, the minister was quoted as saying that between 2008 and 2015, round log exports generated a total revenue of K5654 million while processed timber generated K5895 million.
The association said this was incorrect.
It said the central bank’s Quarterly Economic Bulletin showed that round logs generated 95 per cent of total export value while processed timber accounted for only five per cent.
It believes the minister’s office misunderstood the data.
The association said the industry provided crucial royalty incomes to thousands of people in the remote areas as well as thousands of jobs.
“They also generate massive tax revenues for the Government and provide funding for essential infrastructure,” it said in paid advertisement.
“All this is at risk if this major national industry is stamped out by a government policy based on a mathematical mistake.”
The association said it had been trying to clear up the confusion with the minister and his office but without success and is therefore “publishing the facts”.
In the advertisement, the association provided figures, explained how the minister and his office probably got confused, as well as how the ban would impact on both the industry and the country.
It said if the ban was imposed, the country would lose more than K500 million in the first year alone, as well as more than 28,000 jobs.
In addition, many communities would lose the use of infrastructure like airstrips, roads and jetties and access to basic services like health and education.
“The reality is that while timber processing is an important part of the economy and one that deserves attention from the Government, round log exports still provide the majority of economic returns from forestry for PNG.”
It also pointed out that the scale of timber processing, which the Government seeks to promote, was limited by high costs, complex and expensive customs procedures, poor infrastructure and a lack of trained workers.
The association wants the opportunity to work with the Government because “by working together, we can best identify the issues limiting processing and to grow the sector”.

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