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Forest Minister Loves to Show Off His Ignorance

March 11, 2016

Forest Minister Douglas Tomuriesa has splashed himself all over the media in the last few days trying to refute a report, The Great Timber Heist, that highlights the fact logging companies don’t pay any corporate taxes and deprive PNG of hundreds of millions of Kina in much needed revenues.

Unfortunately for the Minister, all he has done is show off his own ignorance—and invite legitimate questions about why he is so keen to try and defend foreign owned logging companies rather than fight for the rights of his own people…

Below you can read and watch some of the press coverage; but here are some of the startling highlights of what the Minister gets so very wrong:

  • The Minister says the report claims 5 million cubic metres of logs are exported every year. NOT TRUE, the report says 3.8 million—a figure the Minister actually says is correct!
  • The Minister says the report is wrong to claim tax evasion by logging companies as they pay log export duties, but this is a completely different tax to the one referred to in the report! The report says the companies are avoiding paying hundreds of millions of kina in CORPORATE taxes.
  • The Minister says the fact logging companies pay some tax proves there is no tax evasion. This is clearly ludicrous and absurd. As the report lays out in great detail, the logging companies pay some log tax but avoid paying as much as they should through financial misreporting and they completely evade paying some other taxes.
  • The Minister claims the report findings are “mere assumptions’ but the report is based on a meticulous examination of numerous logging companies financial records and IPA declarations. If the Minister actually bothered to read the report he would see clear proof the logging companies declare losses year after year thus avoiding corporate taxes but still stay in business—which defies logic and common sense
  • The Minister says the report authors did not contact the PNG Forest Authority for comments. NOT TRUE, in fact they spent two-days inside the PNGFA talking to senior managers and make mention of those discussions in the report!
  • The Minister makes much of the fact that SGS counts how many logs are exported every year but IGNORES the point made in the report that neither SGS or the PNGFA checks the value of the logs declared by the logging companies—and those values are significantly lower than world market prices, allowing the companies to under pay log taxes and avoid corporate taxes.
  • The Minister claims 96% of logging licences are held by landowner companies but IGNORES the fact almost 100% of timber exports are by foreign owned companies.

The Minister says he is very worried about the public image of the logging industry and the forestry sector in PNG—perhaps he should reflect on the damage his own stupidity and half baked comments are doing to our international reputation!

Png Gov’t Describes Reports On Logging As ‘Half Baked’ And Not True
PNG Today
Papua New Guinea Government has described a recent report on logging in the country as ‘half baked’ and not true.
The report by the US-based think tank, the Oakland Institute titled The Great Timber Heist: The Logging Industry in Papua New Guinea highlighted massive tax evasion and financial misreporting by foreign logging companies, allegedly resulting in nonpayment of hundreds of millions of Kina in taxes.
Forest Minister, Douglas Tomuriesa, said the report paints a bad picture about the good work done by the Forest Authority.