Big profits for Rimbunan Hijau in illegal SABL logging
Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau is making big profits from its illegal SABL logging in East New Britain.
Between 2012 and 2014 RH shipped 661,171 cubic metres of logs from the Sigite Mukus area in the Pomio District, earning over K151 million in the process. And the true figure could be much higher as it is widely believed logging companies in PNG under-declare the real value of the logs they export.
The ongoing logging operation is being carried out across three Special Business Agriculture Lease areas, Portions 196C, 197C and 198C, under a Forest Clearance Authority granted by the PNG Forest Authority.
The CoI concluded
‘With corrupt government officials from implementing agencies riding shotgun for them, opportunistic loggers masquerading as agro-forestry developers are prowling our countryside, scoping opportunities to take advantage of gullible landowners and desperate for cash clan leaders… Our investigations reveal that over 50% of the so-called developers’ currently holding subleases on SABLs are connected in one way or another to Rimbunan Hijau (RH) Limited, which by far is the biggest logging operator in PNG’.
Since 2013 the Prime Minister has been promising to cancel the SABL leases and stop the illegal logging. He even told Parliament
“We will no longer watch on as foreign owned companies come in and con our landowners, chop down our forests and then take the proceeds offshore”
But O’Neill has spectacularly failed to follow through with his promises and we are left to wonder how much of the K151 million has ended up in his pocket of those of key ministers.
Local activists in East New Britain estimate that over 165,000 trees have been felled by RH in Sigite Mukus and many more destroyed in the logging process, which targets the biggest and most valuable trees.
But it is not only the forests that are suffering.
Last year we exclusively revealed a multi-agency report detailing how RH uses police officers to brutalize the communities in West Pomio and prevent legitimate protect against the illegal logging activities.
RH is the owner of the National newspaper and has numerous other business and property interests in PNG.