Timber auctions temporarily suspended as illegal trading rises

Auctions for timber rejected by the Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE), which are conducted by the Forest Department under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, have been suspended since December 29, ministry officials confirmed.

The auctions, which are typically held across the regions and states, have been temporarily suspended in an attempt to control illegal trading of Myanmar timber.

The suspension period is expected to be up to a month to enable the department to reorganize the auction committee and amend outdated auction regulations so that they are more relevant to present circumstances, said U Kyaw Zaw, an office director at the ministry.

Timber obtained through auctions by the Forest Department is not allowed to be transferred to other regions and states and not permitted to be exported to other countries.

However, illegal timber traders and brokers have continued to conduct prohibited timber trades at Myanmar’s border towns. These activities result in an illegal monopoly of the timber market, which artificially drives up the market price and makes it difficult for timber businesses within the local economy to operate.

“We will restrict illegal activities by amending our auction regulations. We will continue to restrict such activities as and when they are brought to our attention even after we reopen the auction process,” said U Kyaw Zaw.

Illegal timber is seized by the Forest Department and transferred to the MTE, which selects high quality timber for export and local use. The rejected logs are transferred back to the department to be put out for sale to the states and regions.

“Sometimes, the MTE does not select the logs seized by the department within the stipulated timeframe of 20 days. Under such circumstances, the Forest Department will place the entire haul of seized timber under the auction process,” said U Win Naing, assistant director of Taungoo District Forest Department.

Source: Myanmar Times

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