TEAK EXPORTER BRISTLES AT PNG CHARGES

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By Nikints Tiptip

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Aug. 3) - Prominence Holdings, a logging company accused of exporting teak logs, has distanced itself from the 14 containers of teak logs detained at the Lae wharf two weeks ago.

The company's managing director, Vincent Uymasuy, who has been operating in Popondetta since February, said there were logging companies in the province trying to smear them because they was buying teak logs at K100 (US$31) per cubic meter while a rival company that has been operating there for some time was buying at K40 (US$12) per cubic meter.

Mr Uymasuy said that teak logs were exported in large quantities by plantations in Rabaul and Port Moresby and that therefore he should be allowed to operate.

He said a logging company in Popondetta had a license only to do downstream processing with a sawmill but was also exporting logs without a license.

"My company is only a small operator and is being falsely accused of illegally exporting logs, while big companies are doing it everyday," he said.

He added the company tried to export the logs as "flitches" and it was unnecessarily accused of exporting teak logs because there is no standard size.

However, forestry officials said teak logs can only be exported after they are processed as flitches measuring 150mm x 150mm on the sides.

But an industry official said yesterday that roughly sawn teak measuring 150mm x 150 mm couldn't be categorized as flitches for export. They have to be further processed into sawn timber before an export permit can be granted.

The PNG National Forest Authority is expected to give a clear definition of flitches today.

He said since his company began operating in Popondetta, it has not exported any logs yet and the logs have been piled at the Girua river waiting for interested buyers from here and overseas.

Mr Uymasuy also said Santi Forestry in Thailand did not own Prominence Holdings as reported but was one of their buyers overseas.

Prominence has buyers in Australia, New Zealand and Thailand, he said.

August 4, 2004

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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