Ban tax-evading loggers: Group

Community advocacy group, Act Now PNG, is calling on the Forest Authority to stop aiding and abetting companies identified by the Internal Revenue Commission, as defrauding the State by evading taxes.

Campaign manager Eddie Tanago says if logging companies are unlawfully evading taxes then the Forest Authority and the Minister must step in to stop these companies from accessing our forest.               

In a recent press release by the Internal Revenue Commission, IRC Commissioner General, Sam Koim, slammed logging companies for stealing from PNG’s forests.

He says the companies are evading taxes by under-declaring their real incomes.

Tanago said the analysis by IRC is alarming and has made a call to the Forest Authority to stop issuing new logging permits and extending extensions for these companies.

“For too long the Forest Authority has failed to properly monitor the logging industry and has turned a blind eye to illegal and unsustainable logging, including in SABL areas deemed unlawful by a Commission of Inquiry,” says Tanago.

The IRC says it is currently auditing 20 foreign owned logging companies and expects to be laying criminal charges, however there needs to be better monitoring.

Koim says when kwila logs are exported from PNG to China, the value declared by the logging company might be around US$110, but the logging company is not selling the logs directly to the buyer in China. He explained that the company sells the logging to one of its own overseas subsidiaries. That associated company then on-sells the logs to China for a much higher price. The offshore company then pockets the price difference, depriving PNG of taxes and royalties and allowing the company to claim a loss on its local operations.

Act Now says the government must step in and stop granting more logging permits or permit extensions until and unless the company involved has been given a clean bill of health by the IRC.

(Act Now PNG picture)

Press release