PNG GOVERNMENT REVIEWING LOG EXPORT TAX

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 8, 1998 - Radio Australia)---In Papua New Guinea, landowner companies involved in logging could soon see some tax relief.

Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports from the PNG capital, Port Moresby, that a new association formed to represent the companies' interests, has urged the government to cut the log export tax.

"The economic crisis in Asia has led to a dramatic fall in world log prices.

"PNG's Malaysian dominated logging industry has cut back production and the new grouping of the logging companies' local partners -- the Association of Forest Resource Owners -- claims ten thousand jobs have been lost.

"The Association's executive group met last Tuesday with PNG's Forestry Minister, Dr. Fabian Pok, and pleaded with him to lower the log export tax, which is now about thirty percent. They told him four fifths of the logging operations in PNG had been shut down and landowner companies were suffering.

"The Association's Interim Chairman, Mark Maipakai, claims Dr. Pok has prepared a Cabinet submission recommending tax relief for the industry."

PRIME MINISTER CONFIRMS PLAN TO CUT LOG EXPORT TAX

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 10, 1998 - Radio Australia)---Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Bill Skate has confirmed that his Government is considering a cut in log export taxes.

Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports that the Malaysian dominated logging industry in PNG has mounted a vigorous campaign for tax relief following a collapse in log prices induced by the Asian economic crisis.

"PNG's current log export tax rate of about 30 percent has had strong World Bank support but the Forestry Industry Association, the FIA, claims the industry is on the verge of collapse -- something it alleges the World Bank would be happy to see.

"The Forestry Minister, Dr. Fabian Pok, has prepared a Cabinet submission to lower the tax, but Mr. Skate says he wants agreement all round before making a decision. `I've asked him to sit with the Treasurer and, of course, the FIA and World Bank to come up with an amicable solution to see how best we can address this problem.'

"Mr. Skate says he does not want the Government to bulldoze through any lowering of the log export tax rate.

"Sean Dorney, Port Moresby."

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