Log tax increase, a big win for people

SOURCE: GRACE AUKA SALMANG – POST COURIER

THE proposed tax increase on log export announced in the 2017 Budget has been described as a big win for the people of PNG.

Former chairman of the Special Agriculture Business Lease (SABL) Commission of Inquiry (CoI) Mr John Numapo said this saying for far too long those involved in the logging industry and forestry sector have failed the Government and the people by paying very minimal tax and next to nothing royalties to landowners for the export of round logs.

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“The landowners in particular were big losers with not only their logs being taken away but also their customary land without adequate and appropriate compensation.

“I commend the Prime Minister Peter O’Neil and his government for taking this bold step to increase the tax on log export as it is long overdue,” he said.

He said the proposed new tax will ensure that both the government and the landowners get maximum returns through taxes and royalty payments from exported logs.

“If COI into the SABL has anything to do with this proposed increase on log export directly or indirectly then it appears to me that the current government is genuinely committed to implementing the recommendations of the SABL Inquiry Report and I am very pleased with that.

“It is my prediction that SABL will be a major platform for many political parties in the upcoming elections next year and the party that supports the return of the customary land back to the landowners and that landowners are adequately and fairly compensated for the logs harvested from their land will have the good chance of forming the next government,” he said.

Mr Numpo said the high tax on log exports will no doubt, scare away the ‘fly-by nighters’ and other so called investors who come under the pretext of agricultural developments but ended up engaging in full scale logging operations as he discovered in the SABL inquiry.

He said only genuine loggers who are prepared to pay the high tax will be allowed to carry on business.

“And like in everything else, there is a cost in doing business in the country and those who are genuine and want to do business must be prepared to pay the cost.

“I urge the Government not to back down on the calls from the logging industry and forestry sector to reconsider the proposed tax increase.

“Logging has been going on for over 30 years now, but the country has not seen any significant returns on export earnings.

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