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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (October 28, 1997 - PACNEWS)---At least 2,000 workers in Papua New Guinea have been laid off and 1,000 more are expected to lose their jobs as 10 major timber companies wind down their operations to cope with low world log prices and high export taxes.

The timber companies are based in New Ireland, Morobe, Gulf, West New Britain, West Sepik, and Central provinces.

Turama Forests Industries in Gulf province, the largest employer in that province, is the latest company to shut down its operations. Company manager Tony Honey said the work stoppage is due to the current depressed markets and high log export taxes.

In Vanimo, West Sepik province police have been keeping a close watch over the properties of the Vanimo Forest Products Company since it began laying off workers two weeks ago. Provincial police chief Edward Kinamun said both local and expatriate staff had been laid off in recent months and the company now is planning to terminate another 500 workers.

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