CM: Forest Dept needs to spread revenue base into wider spectrum

Taib and Raghad cutting the state Forestry anniversary cake at the gala dinner, while Abang Johari (to Taibs left) and others look on.

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By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, Nov 23: The state Forestry will continue to become an important revenue earner to Sarawak but it needs to spread its revenue base into a wider spectrum.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state is in the process of re-engineering its forest revenues, considering that state’s forest were overlooked and had become an undervalued asset.

“Our Forest Department cannot just rely on just collecting its revenue alone from their royalties and tax payment through its logging operation in the state,” he said at the Sarawak Forestry 100 years anniversary dinner at the state legislative assembly (DUN) complex here yesterday.

Sarawak governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and wife Toh Puan Raghad Kurdi Taib were present.

Taib browsing through the Forest Department 100 years anniversary book after its launch.

However, Abang Johari was content to note that the state Forestry is expected to contribute about RM413 million out of RM10.067 billion total revenues Sarawak is expected to collect in 2020.

“This contribution reflects how relevant the Forest Department is, as the state revenue earner, even though Sarawak has diversified into new sources of other revenue for the state.

“Out of the RM413 million made by the Forest Department, a sum of RM229 million is expected from its forest royalty payment, while RM184 million is from its timber premium and tariff,” he said.

He added that the Forest Department is improving the chain custody process of timber by enhancing the verification and monitoring process.

“On the optimistic side in revenue earning, there is a new source of forest revenue which is in progress after consultation with relevant industry players.

“Therefore, I urge the Forest Department not to see the revenue from the forests alone through the traditional royalty collection from its logging activities.”

Abang Johari said the state is looking forward to using carbon offset credit as new state revenue earner after the recent signing of Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Shell International.

He explained that carbon offset credit is equivalent to a reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide (Co2) or equivalent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

“The carbon offset credit will immensely help in promoting our renewable and green energy options like solar energy and wind energy, and in funding projects on nature conservation and reforestation.”

Abang Johari said looking ahead, there is a need to learn from successful experiences elsewhere in the state’s sustainable forest management.

“We must recognise the importance of scientific and technical support, training, capacity building, as well as as the need for clarity in setting out the rights and responsibilities of the forest players,” he continued.

At the event, the Forest Department awarded the former chair of World Forestry, University of Hamburg, Germany, Prof Eberhard F Bruenig and the Malaysian Timber Certification Council founding chairman Datuk Dr Freezailah Che Yeom, for their contribution in successful forestry development in the state. — DayakDaily