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Govt Vows to Standardise Wood Processing Plants

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The government has instructed authorities in charge to inspect wood processing plants nationwide to ensure the plants’ operations meet production and environmental quality standards.

Inspection will be launched into all licensed 1,595 plants across the country and a number of criteria will be used to assess if the plants have complied with the set standards, a senior official of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said yesterday.

Referring to the standards, Director General of the Industry and Handicraft Department of the ministry, Mr. Manolack Rasachak said the plants must meet the set production quality standards and be located in areas permitted by the relevant laws and regulations.

We will inspect to ensure that production by the plants is in line with what they are licensed and allowed to, he said.

The plants’ operations must also meet safety standards such as a hygienic environment to protect workers’ health.

The plants are also required to ensure that their operations observe environmental guidance so that the environment is not polluted by the businesses. Inspections will keep monitoring the current condition of the wood processing plants in Laos.

The move is part of the tougher measures the government has imposed to regulate wood processing businesses and prohibit the export of unfinished wooden products manufactured from timber harvested from natural forests.

Following the action to implement the measures, the government has ordered the closure of 1,154 unlicensed family-run furniture plants across the country.

In addition, more than 20 wood processing plants located in or near conservation and protected forest areas were ordered to cease their operations.

Initial data revealed recently by the taskforce committees at various levels showed that more than 55,421 cubic metres of illegal timber has been found and seized. Some has been sold and the remainder will also be sold through a bidding process.

The committees have also seized a number of vehicles and equipment used for illegal logging. These include 11 trucks used in the snigging of timber, a bulldozer, a log crane vehicle, and a Toyota Fortuner. Some 1,253 chainsaws have also been confiscated and disposed of.

Inspection by the task force committees also found that there are more than 270,407 cubic metres of legally-sourced timber in provinces across the country. However, taxes and customs duties have only been paid on 79,182 cubic metres, generating about 72.5 billion kip.

The government warned businesses that have not paid taxes or customs duties on the remaining 191,225 cubic metres to do so within the allocated time or the wood will be seized.

Source: Vientiane Times