Government issued 435 licences to logging companies
By EDDIE OSIFELO
MINISTRY of Forest and Research has issued a total of 435 licences to logging companies operating throughout the country.
These include 281 valid licences and 154 operation licences.
Permanent Secretary, Vaeno Vigulu confirmed this when asked by Chairman of Public Accounts Committee, Douglas Ete in Parliament this week.
However, PS Vigulu said the ministry only has 135 officers to monitor all the logging operations in the country.
He said this is a ratio of one officer per five operating logging companies.
Chairman Ete urged the PS to take up a business case to Cabinet so that the ministry can recruit more operation officers to impose the compliance measures on the logging companies.
Ete said this is important to avoid logging companies robbing the government when exporting logs overseas.
He said many logging companies have taken advantage of lack of monitoring by Forestry officers.
Vigulu said the ministry is taking steps to fill the gap in management.
He said the ministry will fill positions left by retirees and deceased officers.
After the exercise, Vigulu said he will take a paper to cabinet to allow more recruitment in the operation division.
The logging industry is the biggest contributor of revenue to the government.
However, industry is slowly declining due to overharvesting of the trees in recent years up to now.