GREENPEACE ACCUSES PNG’S FOREST INDUSTRY AND THE

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WORLD BANK OF NAIVE POLICIES

CANBERRA, Australia (March 17, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---The international environmental organization Greenpeace has accused the Papua New Guinea Forest Authority and the World Bank of proposing short-sighted and naive policies to try to prop up PNG's dying log export industry.

Greenpeace said it had obtained a leaked Forest Authority memo indicating its intention to reduce export log taxes by 20 percent, allow logging companies to cease payment of royalties to landowners and allow selective harvesting of premium species.

According to Greenpeace, the PNG government is said to be in favor of retaining the current log export tax but is under pressure from its own Forest Authority and the World Bank to reduce it.

Greenpeace's representative in PNG, Brian Brunton, says the proposed relief measures will be supporting an industry that is based on short-term profit with no long term sustainability for the forests or any long term plan for the PNG economy.

The industrial logging industry made a lot of money when times were good, Brunton said, and still it did not pay what it owed to Papua New Guinea's people. "Now that times are bad, they expect a bail out," he said.

PNG's timber export industry has closed or scaled down three quarters of its operations and dismissed more than 4,000 workers, PACNEWS reports. It blames its problems on the low value of the kina, poor international log prices and a dwindling Asian market.

Until recently, the timber industry was PNG's biggest export earner in Asia.

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