3 Mar 2005

Forestry campaigners in PNG say Minister must resign over support given timber multi national

8:48 pm on 3 March 2005

A coalition of environmental, union and ecoforestry groups in Papua New Guinea wants the Forestry Minister Patrick Pruaitch to resign, alleging he allowed corrupt practices by foreign logging firms.

Lobbyists at a forum in Port Moresby claim the government allowed unsustainable and illegal logging in PNG for too long, disadvantaging local landowners and workers, who were exploited in logging camps.

Their call for the minister's resignation follows a similar call in parliament last week from Huon Gulf MP Sasa Zibe.

He demanded Mr Pruaitch expel the Malaysian timber giant Rimbunan Hijau from PNG or resign in disgrace for protecting its interests over those of local people.

Mr Pruaitch says many unfair criticisms are levelled at logging companies when logging is the country's third largest revenue earner and companies build roads and contribute to health and education services.