Govt mulls setting up forest products regulatory body

13Jan 2018
Polycarp Machira
The Guardian
Govt mulls setting up forest products regulatory body

THE government plans to establish a regulatory authority to monitor the forest products subsector, saying there is need to have standardization of forest products in the country.

Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Japhet Hassunga

It will be charged with grading of timber and determining the prices for different grades, qualifications of players in the sector as well as providing specifications for machinery in the wood industry.

The authority will also help determine the grades of timber and wood products imported in the country as well as setting ethical guidelines to be followed by practitioners in the forest industry.

The revelation was made by Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Japhet Hassunga when speaking to stakeholders in the subsector here yesterday.

He said the government had decided to exploit full potential of the forest products industry in the endeavor to ensure Tanzanians benefited fully from the natural resources.

“The forestry sector is important in the development of the country and several countries have benefitted from it while Tanzania is getting almost nothing from it,” he said, adding that the aim was to tap revenue from the sector.

According to the deputy minister, the sector helped in job creation and supported the government’s industrialization drive, thus if well regulation could contribute immensely to the national economy.

He said plans for the establishment of the authority were at advanced stage and soon stakeholders would be called on to give their views on the matter.

Hassunga said the government also looked s forward to starting forest tourism in efforts to attract tourists to visit forest reserves in the country just as they visited wildlife conservation areas.

The deputy minister told the meeting comprising owners of wood factories that the government was ready to hold regular consultative meetings with the stakeholders to discuss how to improve the sector.

 

Earlier, some of the participants complained that they faced several challenges, adding that if they were not addressed the sector was likely to dwindle further.

 

Godfrey Mosha from Mufindi Environmental Trust (MUET) decried the big number of levies being charged on wood processors, calling on the government to consider reducing them.

 

“We are faced with at least 32 levies, ranging from processing to export of forest products, making the business too expensive,” he said. He called on the government and the Tanzania Forest Services Agency (TFS) to sit together and scrutinize the charges.

 

Lolila Msuya, another player in the sector, argued that the prices of logs had increased, making it difficult to operate the business.

 

But in his response, the deputy minister said the government would review all the levies and look into the possibility of reducing them and also see how to control the price of logs.

He added that the government would continue selling wood plantations for harvesting through the auction system by at least 30 per cent while the remaining 70 per cent of the sales would be done through the contractual method.

This, he said, will help small factories that cannot compete in auctions to get raw materials.