By Gary Hatigeva
MINISTER of Finance and Treasury, Manasseh Sogavare has warned that the country risks facing huge gaps in its logging industry if it continues to unsustainably harvest its trees.
According to Mr Sogavare, the logging sector has been one of the key contributors to overall growth in past years to the country’s economy and that was also witnessed in 2017, which recorded a total of 2.6 million cubics of round logs being exported.
“This is almost as high as the 2016 level,” the Finance Minister explained when delivering the government’s speech on the 2018 Budget in Parliament on Monday.
He said the logging sector output appears to have now stabilised, pretty much at a high level, and the sector according to the Minister is forecasted to contract slightly from real Gross Domestic Production (GDP) growth in the medium term.
However, Sogavare reminded that although logging has remained high, there is a risk in the future if the logging sector is not stabilised and if the government does not establish more sustainable sources of revenue.
He stressed that the challenge for the government is to seek alternative sources of growth to sustain the economy of the country and ensure that there are measures to cater for workers in other industries.
He said the government is therefore facing a serious situation in which it must confront the current unsustainable rate of harvest and suggested that there it progressively reverse the reliance on export of round log.
“Doing nothing will isolate us from the global communities who also advocate for green economy and advance a sustainable harvest that is environmentally, socially and economically inclusive,” the Minister of Finance and Treasury said.
Meanwhile, Sogavare pointed out that the country may not be able to achieve significance compliance to logging code of practices, which led to intentions and programmes to set focus on proper coordination.
“This year will be a year of serious consultations, planning and strategising. My officials, in this respect, have already mobilised and will soon commence consultation with the Ministry of Forestry and other key stakeholders,” the confident Finance Minister explained.
He further added that the aim is to develop, and by the second of 2018 finalise realistic plan of action that will address the current unsustainable rate of harvest and reduce the countries reliance on export of round log.
“It is the commitment of my ministry to see the policy actions in this plan approved by the government, and enforced and factored in the 2018 budget,” Sogavare revealed.