.Govt orders further action to regulate timber industry, combat illegal logging
The government has entrusted a taskforce committee to take further action to strictly regulate wood processing businesses and clamp down on illegal logging after learning that issues continue to exist.
The assignment was made after the cabinet was briefed at the government monthly meeting for February on the progress made by the committee in implementing Prime Ministerial Order No. 15 issued in May last year. The order imposed tougher measures to regulate timber businesses and fight chronic illegal logging.
“Implementation of the order has not been fully successful,” government spokesman Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher told a press conference on Friday shortly after the close of the two-day meeting.
The committee was told to continue action to shut down the remaining 16 wood processing plants located in forest conservation areas. The sawmills are among 28 wood processing plants located in forest conservation areas, in violation of the law. Twelve other sawmills have already ceased operations.
Asked about a previous media report which suggested that some of these businesses had requested permission to relocate their sawmills to authorised places instead of closing down, Dr Chaleun said the cabinet would not approve such requests.
“These sawmills must only be shut down,” he confirmed.
The meeting assigned the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to work with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Attapeu provincial authorities to investigate the 8,705 cubic metres of wood that have reportedly been lost or burned in the province and report their findings to the government.
The cabinet also told Khammuan provincial authorities to seize more than 8,063 cubic metres of wood that businesses had purchased from local people as there was no logging permission for this wood and its origin was not identified.
The meeting told the relevant ministries to organise bids for the sale of illegally harvested wood that had been seized around the country.
Regarding the wood that was still loaded on trucks and had not yet been inspected, the meeting assigned the taskforce committee to work with the businesses involved to remove the wood from the trucks and determine whether it had been harvested legally. If businesses refuse to cooperate, their logs will be seized and become state property.
The meeting also told the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to accelerate the export of the remaining 2,418 cubic metres of veneer wood.
The government recently banned the manufacture of veneer as part of efforts to comply with Prime Ministerial Order No. 15 which prohibits the export of unfinished wood products. Only veneer products that have already been manufactured may now be exported.
The cabinet told the taskforce committee to fully investigate and identify the parties engaged in illegal logging and the unlawful export of logs as well as those who conspire in the process, in order to bring them to justice.
The committee was told to finish their mission to implement Prime Ministerial Order No. 15 by the end of this year and report the outcomes to the government.
The meeting also approved in principle a number of documents, comprising a draft amendment to a Law on Water and Water Resources, draft of a Law on Domestic Industry Protection, an amended draft of the Prime Ministerial Decree on Insecticide, a draft Prime Ministerial Decree on a labour skill development fund, and a report on the outcome of the implementation of the socio-economic development plan for October, November and December 2016.
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update February 27, 2017)