Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Malay forest pillager buys timber back from state

Malay forest pillager buys timber back from state

Malay forest pillager buys timber back from state

AN interministerial committee has recommended that the Government sell 646 illegally

cut logs to the Malaysian logging company GAT International - the same logs confiscated

from the company's Koh Kong concession last year.

On July 28 a nine-member committee voted to accept GAT's bid to buy logs at the basic

Government royalty rate of $54 per cubic meter.

The Government permitted GAT's participation in the auction despite a call from the

environmental monitoring NGO Global Witness to ban GAT from the sale.

The Government's first attempt to auction the logs, on July 19, ended when no concessionaires

bid.

Two days later the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries received a letter

from GAT expressing an interest and making a 10 per cent down payment ($22,833) for

the logs - 4,228 cubic meters of Number Two quality.

In June Global Witness recommended the Government cancel GAT's concession after it

discovered repeated breaches of contract, including the illegal logging of a neighboring

concession.

"At the very least, GAT should not be allowed to bid for them when they come

up for public auction," said GW's Patrick Alley at the time.

But the auction went ahead on July 28 and GAT was the only concessionaire to place

a bid.

Though the Government received only one bid, it was time to make a deal, said Committee

member Sy Define, Deputy Director of the Agriculture Department of the Council of

Ministers.

"We already postponed the auction and we do not expect more customers to apply.

If we continue to delay, the logs will spoil and the price will only drop,"

she said.

The only dissenting voice on the committee was Vann Samnang, Deputy Director of the

State Property Department of the Ministry of Finance. He recommended they ask GAT

for $57.3 per cubic meter.

At press time a decision to finalize the sale had still not been made.

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