October 19, 2017

Enforce timber law: MP

Illegal logging results in billions in lost revenue

Illegal logging and forestry crime contribute to billions in lost tax revenues for the Myanmar government.  Photo: Xinhua

A member of parliament urged the Union government to enforce the laws against the illegal trade of timber in Myanmar during yesterday’s Pyithu Hluttaw session.
MP U Kyaw Aung Lwin read a statement that said the country’s illegal timber trade was a large-scale problem that is rife with corruption.
“Timber trucks have to pass through multiple tollgates.
“Most officials are thought to be on the payroll of the illegal traders because when a vehicle carrying illegal timber is caught, they are able to manipulate the law to show multiple ownerships and reduce the actual number of illegal timber seized in their report”, U Kyaw Aung Lwin said.
Village administrators and township-level officials often face pressure to offer protection to illegal traders, the MP said.
“There have been multiple threats from these illegal timber traders towards officials and others who are working to protect the economic safety of the nation and its people. The premise says that if township-level officials were to effectively comply with the law, the illegal timber trade could be reduced by 70 to 80 per cent”, U Kyaw Aung Lwin said.
Globally, illegal logging is the highest-value environmental crime, at $51 to $152 billion per year, according to a 2016 report by Interpol and the United Nations Environment Programme. The same report notes that overall, environmental crime is increasing at annual rate of 5 to 7 per cent, which is two or three times the rate of the global economy.
In addition to the devastating impact on the environment and biodiversity, illegal logging and forestry crime also contribute to billions in lost tax revenues for governments.
China has long been one of the world’s largest importers, consumers and exporters of wood-based products, according to Chatham House, a conservation group.”
Between the years 2002 to 2017, one deputy administrator and eight people have been killed and 42 have been injured in Myanmar during investigations into illegal timber trading, said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation.
Illegal logging is a significant problem in Myanmar, with poor governance, weak law enforcement and conflict hindering efforts to address the problem.
Union Minister U Ohn Win said his ministry cooperates with Forestry Departments in various states to apprehend illegal timber traders.
There were 15,243 cases in addition to 2,380 cases from the previous year in the 2016-2017 fiscal year and 16,355 of the cases were fully resolved which acquired Ks3.85 billion. There were 16,320 cases in the 2016-2017 fiscal year and 15,166 of the cases were fully resolved which acquired Ks 5.31 billion.
In other action in yesterday’s Pyithu Hluttaw meeting, U Hla Kyaw, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, replied to a question on loans given to members of Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) by U Htun Htun from Pwint Phyu Constituency.
The Deputy Minister said loans are given only to members of the corporation. Ten per cent from a loan of Ks100,000 is saved monthly and collected once every six months. Corporation members are charged an interest rate of 18 per cent a year. Members enjoy a benefit of 12 per cent of the savings. MEC administers loans for small and medium enterprises and gives out loans to farmers once every six months depending on the growing season.
Individuals interested in joining the MEC can register at the nearest MEC department and are required to deposit a set amount of money.
Following this, Dr. Pe Myint, Union Minister for Information, and Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation U Hla Kyaw answered questions about including modern poetry as a category in the National Literature Award, drafting a law concerning conduct of literature talks, constructing floodgates in Mibu City and compensation plans for people who lost farmlands when Kapaung embankment broke. The Pyithu Hluttaw then discussed a premise for establishing a separate government TV channel for education and another premise urging government officials to effectively ban illegal mining of gold and amber in Tanaing and Phar Kant townships in Kachin State.
This was followed by Hluttaw representatives discussing reports by the Committee for Transportation, Communication and Construction and the Committee for Industrial Development. The Pyithu Hluttaw announced receiving the amended Bill for Canal Constuctions sent by the Amyotha Hluttaw and MPs interested in discussing this can register their names.—Myanmar News Agency

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