13 Sep 2006

Former PNG treasurer says timber trade probes possible at last

1:59 pm on 13 September 2006

One of Papua New Guinea's most prominent politicians, former Treasurer, Bart Philemon, says for the first time a PNG government has a chance to launch a thorough investigation of the forestry sector.

He is backing calls for a commission of inquiry into the industry.

Mr Philemon is critical of the failure of successive governments to act despite a string of reports from NGOs which have detailed corrupt practices, human rights abuses and breaches of the forestry legislation.

Mr Philemon says the Political Integrity Law has helped ensure the current government will be the first to serve its full term, but it is yet to grasp the opportunity to sort out the forestry industry.

"Unfortunately this government has the opportunities and [yet] it has not come up with any policies on forestry that would firstly have a look at the serious allegations that exist in terms of the way land owners are being treated, the employees and the people around the forestry area are being treated by the developers and so forth."