BY JEFFREY ELAPA
The country has been missing a lot in taxes and benefits from the logging operations in the country, the National Parliament was told this week.
Members of Parliament and governors whose provinces have existing logging activities raised concerns that the people have been missing a lot from the logging operations as companies continue to evade logging taxes and other rightful benefits to the people and government.
Oro Governor Garry Juffa said many of the companies are operating criminally and often avoid paying taxes.
He said as former boss of Customs he has evidence of some of those companies who continue to evade paying taxes while many others continue to abuse the landowners using state agencies like police.
“When we entered into the look north policy, the country invited alot of people some of whom are genuine logging companies while others are not genuine but operated by criminals. Some of them manipulate the public service and political landscape,” Mr Juffa said.
“As an independent nation, we must not allow criminal companies to enter and destroy our people and our resources.”
Mr Juffa said the practice of paying royalties is something of the past, it is a colonial and outdated rule and practice and that must stop and look at make good laws through the proposed review to monitor the conduct and practice of the logging companies.
He said the provincial forest board has colluded with officers from the National Forest Authority to issue licenses to many of these rogue companies.
He said another development is good there must be a balance so that there is maximum benefit for our people.
Gulf Governor Chris Haiveta said it is high time all the agreements and law needs to be reviewed.
He said the provincial governments and landowners from timber concessional areas to be included as impacted provinces have bad experiences from logging operations in the country.
He said half of Gulf Province is engaged in logging but the benefits are minimal while many of the companies are operating illegal although their logging permits have expired some 6 years ago.
Among other issues, Mr Haiveta said in his province the log development levies have either been used to fund election while the landowners have missed out on such benefits.
He proposed other option in the review, an one of them is to consider state market option, domestic market obligation as in mining companies to be introduced.
Mr Haiveta said other option to be considered in the review must be include mandatory equity participation and review vehicle registration exemption given to the logging companies by the Department of Transport.