PRIME Minister James Marape’s statement in last Tuesday’s The National regarding giving licenses to Papua New Guinean companies is the way forward in the timber industry.
However, it is a little late when the cream of the forest resources has already been depleted by foreign companies.
I support the prime minister in his direction for the PNG Forest Authority not to issue new licences and promote downstream wood processing.
The Barnett Inquiry was to be the turning point, but this has not happened.
I have been in the forest service for 15 years and managed research and development in the forest products that promoted value-added products.
The Government believed foreign companies and advisers that downstream processing was inviable not knowing that they wanted to protect their industry in their own country.
I left the forest service to manage a landowner timber company in the west coast of Manus that wanted downstream processing, but the logging company had other motives not to assist the landowners.
We went ahead to purchase sawmills from New Zealand to produce sawn timber, but this was sabotaged by the foreign contractor for not supplying the volume of logs that was required.
The forest authority could not do much to promote downstream wood processing.
We can go into downstream wood processing, provided that the PNGFA and PNG Forest Research Institute were equipped to assist national companies in producing wood products that meets national and international standards.
Downstream wood processing is not producing sawn timber only.
Marape, I fully support you and it is time now to dismantle foreign dominance in the timber industry.
We can do it.
Forest Products Expert