PORT MORESBY: The Papua New Guinea government has come to the defence of Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau after environmental group Greenpeace accused the firm of illegally exporting timber from the country.
Forestry Minister Patrick Pruaitch took out advertisements in PNG’s two main daily newspapers to refute Greenpeace claims that Rimbunan Hijau had been logging without legal permits.
“All logging operations in the country are legal,” Pruaitch said in the advertisements which appeared over the weekend.
The Government took its stand after Greenpeace representatives in several countries including Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan called for a boycott of timber products exported from PNG by Rimbunan Hijau.
In a report issued early this month, Greenpeace alleged the Malaysian group was exporting illegally-cut rainforest timber.
Pruaitch said suggestions that illegally-felled timber was being exported were “libellous and malicious” and defended the Rimbunan Hijau Group as “one of the most committed logging companies in PNG”.
He contrasted the company with Australian and New Zealand firms which, he said, had “bailed out when the going got tough” and abandoned their PNG operations.
Log exports from PNG, which are mainly shipped to China, Japan and South Korea, have plunged from US$480mil (RM1.8bil) in 1993 to US$100mil (RM380mil) last year. – AFP