A Japanese expert on forestry who works with the ministry in the past four years says he’s unsure whether logging companies have been paying the accurate taxes or not as the department that looks after them is understaffed.
Dr. Nishikawa Tatsuji, the Chief Advisor of Japanese International Cooperation Agency who heads the Project on Capacity Development for Sustainable Forest Resources Management in Solomon Islands revealed this recently to journalists in Honiara.
He stated that in his view, the government agency that supposed to monitor the logging industry’s tax payment has been understaffed, making it unsure whether the logging company have been paying the accurate amount of taxes also.
At the same time, he revealed that if most of these logging industries are foreign companies, and their workers are also foreign people, sustainable forest resource management will be difficult.
Dr Tatsuji said the government revenue for 2019 was $2.62 billion dollars and its 20% as forest sector is 0.52 billion dollars.
“As my calculation, about twice of tax revenue would be gotten to the logging industry, which means more than 1 billion dollars per year have been flowing out of the country,” he said.
He revealed that the receipts from logging account for around 20% of government revenue and for around 66% of the total value of export income.
The logging industry provides around 10,000 jobs, which represent 20% of total employment.
Dr Tatsuji said as for general logging revenues, “60% may be distributed to logging companies, 25% is to taxes and the remaining 15% is to the community”.
Meanwhile the JICA Project on Capacity Development for Sustainable Forest Resources Management in Solomon Islands integratory support the Ministry of Forestry & Research’s capacity development on the forest resource management for the past four years. It ends in August.
As one of the activity of the JICA-SFRM project, they handed over last week the Corporate Plan 2023-2026, and the Long-term Sustainable Forest Resource Management Policy, compiled by the Technical Support Committee of the Ministry of Forest Research and the JICA-SFRM project, after more than one year discussions, to the Ministry of Forest Research executive.