O’Neill tries, but fails, to look tough on illegal logging
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill is trying to sound tough on illegal logging [see story below] while international climate talks continue in Paris – but his posturing for international audiences isn’t going to fool anyone
O’Neill has claimed “no ifs, and or buts, if there are valid claims that a company is involved in illegal logging we will shut down their operations”. The trouble is the PM has been saying almost exactly the same thing for more than two years while hundreds of millions of tonnes of illegal timber continue to be exported.
In September 2013 O’Neill 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 in the 900 days since then the government has taken absolutely no action against any of the illegal logging or unlawful SABL leases.
While the PM’s statement below of action against Yema Gaiapa Developers and Viva Success is welcome, the fact is they are responsible for less than 2% of PNG log exports. These two companies exported 65,370 cubic metres of logs in the 12 months to June 2015. In contrast Rimbunan Hijau exported 5 times more illegal timber, 339,382 cubic meters, from just one unlawful SABL operation in the same period. But rather than take action against RH, the PNG Forest Authority actually issued the company a new logging licence in 2014!
Peter O’Neill’s agenda is he wants the international community to give billions of dollars to PNG for saving its forests – but the international community isn’t going to be fooled by a government wedded to the logging industry and up to its neck in corruption!
PNG Government Issues Stop Work Orders On Two Logging Companies
Investigations into allegations of illegal logging are now underway into the companies Yema Gaiapa Developers Limited and Viva Success Limited.The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea,Peter O’Neill has announced that the Environment and Conservation Authority has issued stop work orders for two logging companies for breaching the Environment Act.
“No ifs, and or buts, if there are valid claims that a company is involved in illegal logging we will shut down their operation and investigate,” PM O’Neill said.
“While the Government is doing all we can to improve governance within the Forestry sector, there are others who have no respect for the laws of this country, or respect for the rights of the resource owners of this country.
“A range of concerns have been reported by landowners including allegations that Yema Gaiapa Developers Limited and Viva Success Limited, at the border of Oro and Morobe provinces, have acted in a way that warrants further investigation.”
The Prime Minister said the National Government is determined, and will continue to provide leadership to nurture better and improved governance in all resource sectors, including the Forestry sector, which has been mismanaged over many years.
“Our Government has placed a moratorium on new licences for round log exports.
“We are also working with key stakeholders and Development Partners to improve the capacity, operations and effectiveness of the National Forest Authority.
“The NFA is mandated with the responsibility of ensuring effective governance of our forestry sector.”
The Prime Minister said as a country with some of the most significant forest coverage in the world, Papua New Guinea is working closely with developmental partners and International Organisations to enhance forestry management.
“We recently hosted the APEC Forestry Ministers’ Meeting in Port Moresby that advanced mechanisms for regional leaders to work together to enhance governance within the forestry sector.
“We have furthered these initiatives at the recent Philippines APEC Leaders Meeting, and these issues were also discussed at the Paris Climate Change conference.
“Papua New Guinea is determined to implement good governance and sustainability in our forestry sector and move beyond the mismanagement of the past.”
The Prime Minister said he urges all stakeholders, including Provincial Governments, the Local Level Governments, landowner companies and their foreign partners to work closely with the national government.
“We need to all strive to improve governance within this very important sector, and protect the interests of the our people and the countries.