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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 1) – World Bank is studying information supplied by the Papua New Guinea government to determine the country’s compliance in a US$39.1 million (K127.4 million) forestry conservation project, the bank’s head in Papua New Guinea Mahesh Sharma said.

Mr Sharma said any positive outcome would enable the bank to lift its suspension on the forestry conservation project (FCP) so that the government could proceed with technical support available under the project to implement a time bound action plan.

Mr Sharma said yesterday the bank’s PNG country director was in Port Moresby to meet with government officials, including National Planning and Rural Development Minister Arthur Somare and his department head Valentine Kambori, Environment and Conservation Minister William Duma and his department head Dr Wari Iamo and other officials. Mr Sharma said the top World Bank officer had a "very productive" meeting with the PNG officials.

Chief Secretary Joshua Kalinoe said yesterday the Government had met all conditions set by the World Bank as the criteria to access the FCP loan since December last year, including the outstanding issues of amendments to Section 137 of the Forestry Act and sustainability of Vailala Blocks two and three concession.

"The amendments to the Forestry Act, including Section 137, are now in the process of going through the National Executive Council before being enacted by Parliament," Mr Kalinoe said.

"All it requires now is for the World Bank to lift the suspension so that the Government can proceed with the technical support available under the FCP to implement the time bound action plan."

The FCP is a five to six year project funded through a part loan and grant arrangement between the bank and the state.

Total funding is US$39.1 million (K127.4 million) consisting of a loan component amounting to US$17.1 million (K55.9 million) from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (WB), a grant component of US$16.9 million (K55.34 million) and National Government component of US$4.9 million (K16 million).

The main objective of the project is to strengthen the capacity of the Government, local communities and other stakeholders to sustainably manage PNG’s forests and to improve sustainability of income opportunities and quality of the project.

Various activities have been identified by the Government to be implemented.

These include landowner forest decision making, PNG Mama Graun Trust Fund, sustainable forest management and environment assessment and monitoring.

Principle government agencies assigned as partners in the project’s implementation include the Forests Authority, the Department of National Planning and Rural Development, Department of Environment and Conservation and the Department of Lands and Physical Planning.

April 4, 2005

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