Heavy fines proposed for rogue loggers

The Mozambican government is expected to apply heavier fines for violations of laws protecting forests and wildlife. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, these penalties would be raised to discourage dishonest logging operators.

The draft revision of these fines, which is currently under debate, fixes the level of fines at between 20,000 and 500,000 meticais. The current fines range from between 1,000 and 100,000 meticais (there are about 26 meticais to one US dollar).

The National Director of Land and Forests, Dinis Caetano Lissave, told the daily newspaper “Noticias” on Wednesday that the increase in fines is being proposed by the government to discipline operators and discourage them from illicit practices.

Dinis Lissave was chairing a meeting in the city of Beira to discuss changes to the level of fines, revisions to forestry and wildlife legislation, and alterations to the taxation regime for the exploitation of forest resources. He advocated that such changes should reflect developments in the socio-economic and cultural situation.

The proposed revisions were generally applauded by various sectors of civil society and logging operators.

However, the president of the Association of Forestry Operators in Sofala (ASOF), Rui Goncalves, lamented that the draft does not include provision for prison sentences for serious offences.

Another operator, Aldo Clerico, agreed that fines are not respected and that it is necessary to allow for prison sentences.

Timber operators were united in their opposition to a proposed change to the tax regime covering the exploitation of forestry resources, which provides for tax increases of between 100 and 600 per cent. The loggers said that if this measure was introduced, it would promote the exporting of logs as this would be the only way of making a profit.

Almost unanimously, the timber merchants argued that this measure would only serve to enrich foreign operators.

The operators applauded the draft regulation that would see the extension of the period for logging in a particular area to five years. Currently, loggers only have one year for cutting logs in an area before being forced to move, which discourages sustainable exploitation.

Post published in: Africa News

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