Mon, 12 Feb 2018 09:31:41 +0000
By BENNIE MUNDANDO
THE inefficiencies in the Forestry Department have grown out of proportion and require concerted efforts to save the forestry resources from total extinction, Timber Producers Association of Zambia (TPAZ) has noted.
TPAZ said it was in total agreement with the report of the Auditor General on the failure of the Ministry of Lands in sustainable forest management.
Making its submission before the parliamentary committee on Agriculture, lands and natural resources, the association said the glaring failure by the ministry to manage the country’s forests and forest resources, particularly indigenous timber, had attributed to a combination of evil motives and operational incapacitation brought about by political interference, loss of Government revenue, and inadequate funding, among other factors.
“The Forestry Department has been operating without adequate funding, transport and manpower to carry out its functions effectively and this has been highlighted in numerous stakeholder proposals and recommendations submitted to the responsible ministry on many occasions without positive results,
“The failures of the department to carry out its technical extension, research monitoring functions highlighted in the report are chiefly anchored on the constraints.
“Further, the forest industry can only be properly managed with the involvement of all stakeholders, at all levels and by supporting the skilled trained forest officers to work freely without any political interference when implementing the Forest Act No. 4 of 2015 and the Timber Export Act No. 94 of 2015,” reads part of their submission.
The association said the current arrangement to export Mukula timber through ZAFFICO was a disaster as it had led to the loss of revenue by Government going by the little figures the ministry was giving realised from the exercise.
“Unfortunately, under the current protection arrangement of exporting all mukula timber through ZAFFICO, none of the taxes are being collected by Government,” says the association
It submitted that the ministry, through the Forest Department, had completely abandoned the issuance of forest concession licences and that a lot of applications for sawmilling were just pending in the offices.