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More Than a Thousand Furniture Plants Ordered to Shut Down

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The government has ordered some 1,154 family-unit furniture plants across the country to shut down their illegal operations, a government spokesman announced yesterday.Additionally, more than 20 wood processing plants located in or near conservation and protected forests areas were also ordered to close down.

The order was approved at the meeting between Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and his deputies that took place on August 29 when the Task Force Committee reported about its findings in relation to the illegal operations.

The spokesman Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher warned the operators of the plants to abide by the government’s order, which came into effect yesterday as he made a public announcement about the order during a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office.

“If the operators don’t shut down their plants, authorities in charge will take action,” he told local media at the press conference.

He explained that the family-unit furniture plants had not been granted business licenses, while the more than 20 wood processing plants located close to forest conservation areas were also breaching the relevant laws.

The government also instructed the ministries in charge to take action to properly regulate the 1,595 licenced wood processing and furniture plants to ensure their operations meet the required standards.

The move was part of the progress made in implementing the Prime Ministerial Order No 15 issued on May 13 that imposes tough action to regulate wood processing businesses and logging, including prohibition of exports of unfinished wooden products.

Initial data from the taskforce committee showed that there are more than 270,407 cubic metres of legally-sourced timber in provinces across the country.

Taxes and customs for more than 79,182 cubic metres have been paid, generating more than 72.5 billion kip.

Dr Chaleun warned those businesses which have not paid taxes or customs for the remaining more than 191,225 cubic metres of timber to do so within the allocated time – if not the timber will be seized.

More than 55,421 cubic metres of illegal timber has so far been seized to become part of state assets. The seized timber will be sold through a bidding process.

The government has warned authorities at the ministerial, provincial and district level to stop granting logging quotas as it contravenes the Forest Law, which only gives the government the right to grant the logging quotas.

Any logging quotas previously granted by the ministries, provinces and districts but which have yet to be cut have been announced as revoked.

“Any department that further grants logging permits will be held responsible and punished,” Dr Chaleun warned.

Following the implementation of the Prime Ministerial Order, authorities have also seized a number of vehicles and equipment used for illegal logging.

These included 11 snigging trucks, a bulldozer, a log crane vehicle, and a Toyota Fortuner amongst others. Some 1,253 chainsaws were also seized and destroyed.

Dr Chaleun assured that the government has been tough to take action against those involved in the illegal actions and violators will be punished.

Source: Vientiane Times