A new on-line petition calling on Papua New Guinea’s Treasurer to launch an urgent investigation into the logging industry and its tax record has collected over 800 signatures in just 10 days.
The petition is a response by community advocacy group ACT NOW! to revelations most logging companies operating in Papua New Guinea avoid paying any corporate taxes, depriving the country of hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenues.
The tax evasion was exposed in a detailed report published earlier this year by the Oakland Institute.
“The Great Timber Heist shows how most logging companies declare losses year after year, allowing them to avoid paying a thirty percent tax on their profits”, says Effrey Dademo, ACT NOW! Program Manager.
“Our government is cutting spending on vital services and the country urgently needs the revenue, yet the logging industry is not paying its share”
“The Internal Revenue Commission is aware of the situation but lacks the resources and political support to investigate. This is why we have launched the petition calling on the Treasurer to take action”.
Papua New Guinea is now the world’s largest exporter of tropical timber as volumes have increased dramatically as companies have expanded their operations to log inside the unlawful SABL lease areas.
ACT NOW! says it is clearly illogical for any company to stay in business if it makes loses year after year, it makes even less sense for them to be actually expanding their logging operations using the unlawful SABLs to access new forest areas.
“The only sensible explanation is these companies are hiding their profits and in The Great Timber Heist we see how these companies can do that by manipulating their income and expenses”, says Ms Dademo.
The petition also calls on the government to cancel the SABL leases as recommended by the Commission of Inquiry and promised by the Prime Minister.
“We are still waiting for the government to implement its promises to cancel the unlawful SABL leases and return the land to its rightful owners. To learn the logging companies are not even paying corporate taxes on their operations just compounds the injustice”.