16 Mar 2005

PNG Forest Minister hits back at calls to resign

8:47 pm on 16 March 2005

The Papua New Guinea Forest Minister, Patrick Pruaitch, says the Eco Forestry Forum and Greenpeace are offering no alternatives to the country's resource owners.

He was reacting to recent criticism that he acts in the interests of local logging companies.

The Forum, at a meeting in Port Moresby last week, also alleged Mr Pruaitch allowed corrupt practices by foreign logging firms and urged him to resign.

The Post Courier newspaper says resignation call was in support of an earlier demand by MP Sasa Zibe in Parliament the week before in which he also accused Mr Pruaitch of working more with logging companies than the resource owners.

But Mr Pruaitch says none of the lobby groups offer practical development alternatives.

He says the current way logging operations are carried out will be maintained as per the Forest Act.

Mr Pruaitch accuses the NGOs of wanting to oppose and undermine any genuine attempts by the government to grow the economy.