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Raw log export will stop, says new PNG Forest Minister Mirisim
10:22 pm GMT+12, 12/06/2019, Papua New Guinea

 Papua New Guinea new Forest Minister Solan Mirisim says “raw log” exports mainly to China, will decline drastically as the government makes a major shift to downstream processing by next year.
 
Mirisim said from 2014 to 2018, the log export volumes increased to more than 3.5 million cubic metres and the free on board (FOB) values reached more than K1 billion (US$296 million).
 
He said additionally, the major processed wood products export volumes including sawn timber, balsawood, plywood and veneer sheets increased during this period.
 
“The current scenario is that much of the log harvest goes out in raw form for export markets, mainly to China. However it is the intention of the government to reverse this trend where it wants to see a major shift into downstream processing in the country,” Mirisim said.
 
“I intend to fulfill this major shift from major log exports to increase downstream processing to promote increased employment for our citizens.”
 
He said this during the handover-takeover ceremony with former minister Douglas Tomuriesa at the ministers garden at the National Forestry Authority (NFA) office at Hohola in Port Moresby.
 
Mirisim said the various policy initiatives include:
 
* Draft downstream processing strategies;
 
*Draft reforestation strategies;
 
*Draft PNG timber legality standard;
 
*Draft PNG timber legality verification system;
 
* Draft PNG logging code of practice;
 
*Draft PNG timber legality guidance template;
 
* Revised national forest plan;
 
* Revised PNG country specific guidelines to meet the Australian markets specifically; and
 
*Implementation of the multipurpose national forest inventory.
 
Mirisim said this policy framework will be pushed through the National Executive Council to start making things happen for the stakeholders including landowners, developers and all other stakeholders in the sector.
 
Meanwhile, the ban of round log export will cost up to K400 million (US$118 million) a year in losses in government revenue, former forest minister Douglas Tomuriesa said.
 
Tomuriesa said given the inability for the PNG Forest Authority to provide a comprehensive action plan and no capacity to enforce the policy, he recommended a phase out of the ban over several years.
 
The round log export ban is due to come into force next year.
 
The MP for Kiriwina-Goodenough, who served as forest minister from 2012 until the recent change of government, said.
 
“Draft policies on downstream processing in the forest industry and reforestation have been forwarded to the office of the chief secretary.
 
“The PNGNFA needs additional capacity and relevant expertise to formulate appropriate Government policy for downstream processing,” Tomuriesa said.
 
“Strict enforcement of the available regulations can impress upon the industry the government’s seriousness.

A paradigm shift in PNGFA’s approach to the management of the forest industry in PNG is essential to create a vibrant and sustainable forest industry.
 
“Current government policy calls for the banning of round log export by 2020. Given the inability of the PNGFA to provide comprehensive action plan for implementation since the announcement of this policy by the government in 2012 and the reliance of log export tax as an important source of Government revenue over K400 million in 2018, it may be more practical to phase out the ban over several
years.”
 
Tomuriesa said the new forestry regulation also needs ministerial guidance and action by the National Executive Council.
 
He said this needs to be approved by the NEC to complement the Forest (Amendment) Act 2019 to enable the imposition of the management levy for the PNGFA to become self financing.
 
He called for a comprehensive strategic review of the forest industry to prepare the country for the next phase of development.
 
This is given emerging changes in technological innovations, international geo-politics and international trends in the trade of logs and timber.
 
Mirisim said he will follow up and seek advice to undertake some of the initiatives., plus the recommendations by Tomureisa.

SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS


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