Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - MFI loans used for illegal logging

MFI loans used for illegal logging

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Villagers display paperwork alongside environment officials after explaining that they used loans from microfinance institutions to buy equipment to illegally log and transport timber. Photo supplied

MFI loans used for illegal logging

A conservation NGO official yesterday said he planned to ask microfinance lenders to better scrutinise their loans after a spate of cases over the last month showed that such loans had been used by illegal loggers to purchase chainsaws and tractors for transporting timber.

The Natural Resource and Wildlife Preservation Organisation stopped around 250 timber transporters in Kampong Speu, Kratie and Pursat provinces over the last month, only to find that many had used microfinance loans to pay for equipment used in their illicit activities, said the NGO’s director, Chea Hean.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
NGO director, Chea Hean poses for a photograph during an inspection for illegal timber transportation busts last month in Kampong Speu province. Photo supplied

“Some transporters got $1,000, $2,000 or up to $3,000 loans to buy chainsaws, tractors or makeshift trucks to haul the timber illegally,” Hean said yesterday.

While some had showed the organisation their loan papers, many requested that the authorities not seize their equipment because they needed it to earn money in order to pay back their loans, Hean added.

Hean’s claims were backed by Nov Nak, deputy director for Kampong Speu’s Environment Department, who said that in such cases authorities would educate transporters, asking them not to repeat the offence.

“If we crack down and seize the timber and vehicles, that just causes them serious problems because they have no money to pay back the department,” Nak said.

Hout Ieng Tong, president of Cambodia Microfinance Association, said microfinance institutions already employed policies that prevented them from issuing loans for illicit activities such as illegal logging, drug smuggling and illegal fishing.

But, he added, it is difficult to monitor clients who misrepresent their intentions at the time of taking the loan.

“If they tell us honestly that they will use a loan to purchase chainsaws or trucks [for logging] we will reject it,” he said.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Two NGO workers and a driver pose after they were arrested on Monday for allegedly extorting money from a wood transported in Pursat province. Photo supplied

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • Cambodia purchases 4 million Molnupiravir tablets

    Cambodia has arranged for the purchase of four million US-made Molnupiravir pills – enough to treat 100,000 Covid-19 patients – even though the current rate of daily infections in Cambodia remains low. The medicine will be distributed to state hospitals, pharmacies and private clinics, according to the Samdech

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Is Cambodia’s travel sector in for another cheerless holiday season?

    The travel and tourism sector was heaving back to life as borders started to reopen, promising a festive vibe for the holidays and New Year. But Omicron and other Covid-related issues are threatening to close the year on a bleak note ‘Seems [like] Covid-19 won’

  • No more Africa travel ban but new rules for arrivals

    The Ministry of Health has decided to lift the ban on travellers from or who have travelled through 10 African countries and instead issued a set of standard operating procedures to manage passenger arrivals at Cambodia’s international airports. The 10 African countries are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho,

  • Cambodia planning new border checkpoint at Thma Da

    Cambodia is looking into the possibility of opening a new Thma Da Border Checkpoint with Thailand to boost trade and tourism. The Ministry of Public Works and Transport said on December 4 that Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol led a technical working group