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Govt to review forestry and mining sector

THE Government says it will review its policies on the forestry and mining sectors.

Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare made the assurance when moving the motion of the National Anticorruption Strategy (NACS).

This promised review is in line with priority focuses of the strategy on fighting corruption in the country’s forestry and mining sector.

He told Parliament that these reviews will be underpinned by the intention to provide more transparency in the processes required by law, leading up to the awarding of licences and doing mining and logging operations.

The Prime Minister told Parliament that existing legislations governing these sectors might be amended in the future as a result of these reviews.

The reviews will provide statutory provisions requiring mining and logging operation to comply with measures particularly aimed at achieving transparency and accountability.

He confirmed to Parliament that provincial consultations have confirmed what news reports and scholarly research have found over the years and that is the process of acquiring logging and mining concessions creates multiple opportunities for corruption.

“The major reason for this is that potential investors, especially in the forestry sector deal directly with landowners many of whom do not have the knowledge and skills to negotiate fair deal and are therefore vulnerable to being misled and cheated into signing timber rights agreements,” said the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Hon Sogavare then added that because the Government cannot afford to sponsor timber rights hearings and surface access agreement hearings, potential investors fund them and as a result the potential investors wield an extraordinary degree of influence over a process aimed at ensuring fair agreements.

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