K37 million ‘missing’ from forest funds


PNG Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa

Source: Post Courier 

THE Government will investigate how K37 million of the K140 million forest development levy funds were misused, Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa told Parliament yesterday.

Mr Tomuriesa said for the past 10 years, about K140 million in development levies were parked in the department’s trust accounts but K37 million can not be accounted for and he would make a proper statement to detail the actions that will be taken to recover the money.

Western Governor Ati Wobiro had asked Mr Tomuriesa for an update on an incident in the Panakawa sawmill where six people were killed.

NCD Governor Powes Parkop also had a supplementary question on the development levy and downstream processing while Bulolo MP Sam Basil, the Deputy Opposition Leader, queried the ban on the exporting of round logs.

Mr Tomuriesa said the National Forests Authority had completed a report on Panakawa after two years of investigations and he will present it to Mr Wobiro and the Parliament when he presents his ministerial statement.

He said that letters had been sent out to leaders who have logging operations in their electorates, informing them of the investigations into logging operations.

"Next week I will be visiting a big operation in Vanimo to make certain that operators comply with the issue of downstream processing.

"I can say that a lot of these operators – while on downstream processing, we have not seriously looked at the processes of operations of districts and communities.

"Let me make it clear here, that every MP whose got on-going logging operations in their province must receive their fair share of development. It is important that every one of us must make our forests our business." Mr Tomuriesa said.