The Ministry of Forestry and Research on Tuesday clarified concerns raised by Premier Patrick Vasuni to explain current operations of Tropical Resources Ltd on Gela Islands.
In a statement yesterday the Forestry Ministry said procedures to acquire felling licenses are clear, and unless the Premier of Central Province overlooked the records and history of the company concern; he is ill informed.
Vasuni claimed the re-entry of Tropical Resources Ltd in its current concession area is a breach of the procedures to acquire felling license.
And the re-entry of the company must proceed back to timber right hearing processes.
According to the statement released by the Ministry of Forestry and Research, the point raised by Premier Vasuni is a non-issue if he understood well the real issue at hand.
The statement added the only issue at hand now are some outstanding issues pertaining to complaints.
The Ministry on this regard has already acted promptly and responded accordingly to the parties concern.
The statement then explained, with regard to the point raised by the Premier, the issue is renewal of an existing license which according to the procedures no second timber right hearing supposed to be held.
“Only if there is a new application or applicant for felling license, then, a timber right hearing can be convened,” it states.
It explained concerns raised with the current company operating there that a felling license was first issued way back in 2013 upon fulfilling all the requirements to Tropical Resources Development Company as the applicant.
“That was when a timber right hearing was held, and the Central Provincial Government then made its decision in favour of the applicant.
“Then, prior to its felling license expiring date in 2015, Tropical Resources Development Company requested for an extension.
“This was done with land trustees of various customary lands covered under the license giving in their consent.
“Upon these, the Ministry checks the company’s records and served the company notice to settle its arrears and the renewal license fee last year.
“This includes fulfilling all requirements with an annual harvest plan and paying up of business license fees with the province,” said the statement.
However, the renewal or extension of the licence term was delayed for sometimes due to a number of outstanding issues.
These has been resolved and cleared, hence the renewal or extension of the licence term was endorsed late last year, 2016.
The statement further added, whilst it’s a rightful concern of the Central Provincial Government, it is also wise to consider and weigh the options of settling such a matter rather than going straight into the media.
“Such an issue is minor and should be settled properly in dialogue between the Ministry of Forestry and Research as the National Government agent and the Central Provincial Government,” the statement said.
– MoFR Press