SOLOMONS FORESTRY OFFICERS SAID TO ISSUING ILLEGAL LICENSES

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Mills not supposed to export whole logs

By Douglas Marau HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 13, 2010) – In the Solomon Islands, certain officers within the forestry department are claimed to have been giving out illegal logging licenses to Asian companies to export logs, a highly placed source reveals.

The source within the ministry told the Solomon Star the ministry carried out an internal investigation within its departments and found that one of their departments has been illegally giving out permits to Asian companies to export logs.

He said last week seven containers from an Asian company were held up at the Solomon Islands Ports Authority after authorities found they were trying to exports tubi tree round logs using a milling license.

The Solomon Star understands that according to the Forestry Act, companies with milling license are only given permit to export timbers and not round logs, which only applies to companies who have a felling license.

However, the source said some officers within the ministry have issued permits for the company to export logs under a milling license which was illegal.

"I believe there are corruptive practices within the ministry that needs to be investigated," the source said.

He added that the illegal issuing of permits to Asian companies to export timber under different licenses have been an ongoing issue that needs to be investigated.

"They not only broke the forestry act but they have also by-passed our customs & excise laws," the source said.

When the Solomon Star contacted the ministry of forestry’s licensing division they denied any knowledge of the reports, stating it was not true.

"We never heard of the story and I don’t know where you got that story from because it is impossible to give out permits as such as each license application has to go through a lot of screening before it can be issued," one of the officials within the ministry said angrily.

On two separate occasions when this paper tried to contact them again they hanged up and refused to speak to the reporter.

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