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PNG Forestry Minister's Criticism Possibly 'Wilful Blindness': Oakland Institute

March 7, 2016
ABC Radio Australia

Richard Ewart

Papua New Guinea's forest minister has hit back at a recent report on the country's logging industry, which was critical of tax evasion and financial misreporting by foreign logging companies.

The Oakland Institute report says Papua New Guineans are missing out on millions of dollars in tax revenue annually due to these practices, and the stated aim of the report was to prompt the nation's politicians to take action.

But Forestry minister Douglas Tomuriesa has told local media the report is based on 'mere assumptions', and that the researchers did not meet with anyone from the minister's office or the PNG Forest Authority.

Frederic Mousseau, the Oakland Institute's policy director, says the group did meet with representatives from the Forest Authority, and at that time, the officials acknowledged discrepancies in the country's log prices, but said they were a sensitive topic.

Mr Mousseau says the minister's comments may be a case of 'wilful blindness'.