Home > Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea > K226 million judgement puts spotlight on GG’s role in illegal logging in Papua New Guinea

K226 million judgement puts spotlight on GG’s role in illegal logging in Papua New Guinea

This week’s decision in the National Court, that logging company Concord Pacific pay a record K226 million in damages for environmental destruction caused by illegal logging, puts the spotlight on the role of Papua New Guinea’s Governor General in facilitating and supporting illegal logging and the misery it causes to the lives of ordinary people

The Governor General, Michael Ogio, was heavily involved as part of a political web that facilitated and supported the illegal logging operations of Concord Pacific when he was Forest Minister.

As Forest Minister, Ogio not only approved the unlawful issuing of an extension to the Kiunga-Aiambak Timber Authority held by Concord Pacific, against the advice of five different government departments. Ogio also gave Concord Pacific three separate unlawful tax exemptions.

In handing down the courts decision on damages on Tuesday, Justice Cathy Davani was very critical of the destruction caused by the logging company. She said the destruction had completely destroyed the lives of local people, especially children and women, and the damage done was immeasurable. These impacts were the direct consequences of the unlawful actions of the Governor General and a whole line of other politicians and senior public servants.

In December 2000, Ogio granted an illegal Timber Authority for Stage 3 of the Aiambak Kiunga project. This was illegal as the Minister had no power to grant a Timber Authority and no proper application or allocation procedures had been followed. This was later pointed out to the Minister in a letter from the National Forest Baord – a letter which he ignored.

Six months earlier In May 2000 Ogio, together with the Ministers for Transport, Works and Agriculture, had made a submission to the National Executive Council for the extension of the Kiunga Aiambak Timber Authority.  The submission ignored the view of the Forest Authority that the existing Timber Authority was totally illegal. The proposed extension to the Timber Authority was also totally contrary to the provisions of the Forestry Amendment Act 2000 and had been heavily criticised by a number of Government Departments.

As Forest Minister Ogio was involved in a whole series of other controversial and illagal logging deals.

Two of the biggest were:

  • Three Ministerial Directives to the National Forest Board to ignore proper procedures and unlawfully award the Josephstaal logging concession in Madang Province; and
  • Approval for an unlawful 10-year extension of the Timber Permit for the huge Wawoi Guavi concession, held by logging giant Rimbunan Hijau. In granting the approval, Ogio went against the advice of the Forest Authority and acted in defiance of the National Forest Board
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  1. May 22, 2012 at 10:35 pm

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