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SYDNEY, Australia (ABC News Online, Aug. 18) - The World Bank
and the Papua New Guinea's government have denied claims they are trying to shut
down the country's US$112 million a year timber industry.

In a joint statement, World Bank local representative Mahesh
Sharma and PNG Chief Secretary Joshua Kalinoe said recent statements attributed
to Forest Industries Association president Stanis Bai were "blatantly false
and misleading".

They said action was being taken under the World Bank's Forest
and Conservation Project to ensure logging companies were complying with the law

Bai last week accused the World Bank and Kalinoe of acting
outside the law in suspending a timber permit operated by Malaysia's Rimbunan
Hijau group at Vailala in Gulf Province.

He also claimed the World Bank was carrying out a long-term plan
to shut down PNG's forest industry to protect U.S. corporations that were now
aggressively marketing their logs and timber products in big Asian markets.

Kalinoe said malpractices in the forest industry over the years
had meant that the people of PNG and the nation as a whole had missed out on the
full benefits of their forest resources.

August 20, 2003

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