Forest Minister declares foreign logging companies above the law
PNG laws do not apply to foreign owned logging companies according to Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa
He says that although logging companies may have illegally acquired logging rights through unlawfully issued SABL leases and fraudulent Forest Clearance Authorities the government is not going to take any action against them. According to the Minister, the logging companies can continue to operate illegally without fear of any sanction.
Speaking on ABC news on 12 November, Tomuriesa said that as the logging companies have invested in their operations that means the government won’t take action against them as that would mean the money had been wasted.
Bank robbers take note – invest in a helicopter or a get-away van to flee the scene and all your crimes will be forgiven!
For the Minister, the fact the logging companies having made hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from their illegal logging operations makes no difference. Nor does the fact they have bulldozed their way through hundreds of hectares of forest causing enormous destruction and environmental harm. The fact the logging companeis have brought in a few chainsaws and bulldozers makes them immune from the law. Or is it a few bribes to the politicians that are really behind the Minister’s words?
The 2013 SABL Commission of Inquiry reports that found the SABL leases had been unlawfully issued and public statements from both the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary have described the SABLs as a scam and the companies as corrupt.
Clearly that corruption extends right to the very highest levels of our government – what other reason could there be for the government’s failure to take action?
Mr Tomuriesa has not indicated whether the government’s indulgent attitude towards illegal activity will be extended to much less serious crimes like shoplifting and pick pocketing – after all isn’t everyone meant to be equal before the law?
Not in PNG it seems!