By Simon Ebegbulem
BENINâ€”THE Chairman of Edo State Monitoring Committee on Forestry, Comrade Lucky Eriyo, has said the state was losing over N500 million yearly in the forestry sector due to the activities of illegal timber operators and low target given to revenue contractors in the forestry department.
He pointed out that the state had the best wood in the world and as a result exported timber in the past.
He regretted that revenue in the sector dropped drastically due to the destruction of the forest by illegal timber operators and the meager levies being paid to government by contractors in charge of collecting revenue from the sector.
According to him, â€œ we are trying to check the excesses of these illegal timber operators who have been milking the state for a very long time now.
â€œThe state is losing over N500 million yearly from this sector because of the activities of these people. Another issue bothering us is the area whereby government contracted the collection of revenue in the forestry sector to contractors.
â€œIt is not proper that way. We now have a body that is supposed to handle that because what these people are paying into government purse is too meager to compare with what they are making.
â€œThey pay about N500,000 to government yearly while they make millions. But what we are saying now is that we want to boost our Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).Â Â Therefore, we want to block every loophole.
â€œThe Comrade governor decided to set up this committee for this purpose and our aim now is to return the state back to the old days that we use to be the best in timber production. So we will put a stop to some of these illegal activities, particularly log control.
â€œWe are also going to embark on planting of threes and collect our lands back from the farmers who destroyed our trees all these years.â€
Eriyo added that â€œ last time, we went to Okomu where the company had been perpetrating illegalities.Â We visited the place and we found out that they have been vandalizing our woods, carrying our logs without stamp and exporting them abroad.â€