Community advocacy group ACT NOW! says Forest Minister Douglas Torumiesa’s attack on a report alleging the logging industry is failing to pay hundreds of millions of Kina in taxes is full of errors.
“The Forest Minister’s statements attacking The Great Timber Heist are full of inaccuracies and must be challenged”, says ACT NOW! Program Manager, Effrey Dademo.
The Great Timber Heist, a report from the Oakland Institute in the United States, details how major foreign owned logging companies operating in PNG consistently avoid paying corporate taxes by claiming they do not make any profits.
The Oakland Institute suggests the companies use financial misreporting, overstating their expenses and understating their income, to make it appear they operate at a loss year after year. This deprives PNG of hundreds of millions of kina in vital revenues.
However, the Forest Minister has attacked the report findings, saying as the companies do pay log export taxes the findings are inaccurate and irresponsible.
“We are really questioning whether the Forest Minister has read The Great Timber Heist”, says Ms Dademo. “If he has read it, then how does he not understand the difference between log export taxes and corporate taxes?”
“And does the Minister know that neither SGS nor the PNG Forest Authority check the timber prices the companies declare?”
“Does he understand that it defies logic for a company to keep doing the same thing year after year if it never makes any profits?”
The Forest Minister also claims 97% of logging licenses are held by landowner companies and the PNGFA has no role in the SABL land grab.
“But nearly all log exports as recorded in SGS reports are done by foreign owned companies”, says Ms. Dademo “and the logging in SABL areas is done under Clearance Authorities approved and issued by the Forest Authority”.
ACT NOW! Is calling on the government to carry out an urgent investigation into financial reporting by the logging industry.