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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 31) – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare yesterday slammed non-government organisations including Greenpeace for "selectively using outdated reports" to attack the government for condoning unsustainable logging practices.

Anonymous anti-logging group Masalai-tokaut was also singled out, Sir Michael describing the group as "liars" in reply to its numerous publications implicating the PNG government and politicians for corrupt forestry deals.

Sir Michael said the timber industry critics were trying to frustrate Papua New Guinea’s development under the pretext of promoting good forest management practices.

He was speaking at the signing of the Cloudy Bay Forest Management Agreement (FMA) between the state and developer Northern District Sawmilling and Timber Company (NDS) in Central Province’s Abau district.

"Non-governmental organisations like Greenpeace have selectively used outdated reports to accuse the Government of allowing unsustainable logging practices and used this to campaign against our timber exports to other countries," Sir Michael said. "The faceless Masalai newsletter and those cowards behind it have unrelentingly accused the Government, its agents, (and) even me and my family of corrupt dealings in the forest sector. But none of them are responsible enough to reveal their identity so that we can hold them to account and expose them for what they are — liars."

But Greenpeace forest campaigner Dorothy Tekwie expressed disappointment that Sir Michael — who has been internationally promoting his carbon trading initiative — now advocated the destruction of forests that the initiative would ultimately depend on.

She said Greenpeace based its criticisms on Government-sanctioned 2003-2004 Forest Review Team report as well as an Ombudsman Commission report on Rimbunan Hijau’s Kamula Doso operation in Western Province.

"These reports have identified major concerns that are yet to be resolved by the Government," she said. "There are numerous landowners from Sandaun to Western Province in court fighting against logging companies and governments over environmental damages or breaches to terms of permit agreements."

April 3, 2006

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