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Is the Georgian government going to take the knock on forests?2009-06-18 16:48
Ministry of Economic Development of Georgia announced the timber processing license auction sale. The environmental specialists were the first to speak against it; however, they may also be followed by the oppositionists. At the end of last year, the intended transfer of the forest administration into private hands aroused such a vehement protest that the auction sale was postponed. GeorgiaTimes is talking to economical expert Ditrikh Muller.
Non-parliament organization Green Alternative is protesting against the decision taken by Ministry of Economic Development of Georgia, GHN reports. The environmental specialists are indignant at the fact of "encroachment upon the right to take part in the decision-making process related to the environment, and the country legislation being violated". They fear lest the secret decision-making should encourage corruption and creation of more trouble spots in society.
The environmental specialists are right: this is not a time for touching upon the sore point of forest sale at the heat of confrontation between the authorities and the opposition, even if the Georgian state budget is lacking funds to cover its obligations. Last December, an attempt to announce such kind of auction sale failed due to the opposition's activity. At that time, the point was the leasing of 162 thousand hectares of forest for 20 years with the right of deforestation.
It was the Labourite party that came out in protest against the forest sale. It was planning to introduce a bill into the parliament in order to prohibit the forest sale in Georgia once and for all. As Kakha Dzagania promised, the forests "would have been used only by the local residents". According to him, the Constitution of the country does not allow the sale of natural resources.
Nino Burjanadze's Democratic Movement - United Georgia also criticized the government's intention to sale out the forests. "Such kind of auctions is nothing but an attempt of some officials in the outgoing government to "catch it"; this is not an urgent need. Such absolute exploitation and realization of the Georgian forests is going on under the aegis of replenishing the budget", - leader of the party's economical block Temur Murgulia stated.
The oppositionists managed to save the forests. "As the new minister, despite my implicit trust in my predecessor Eka Sharashidze, I have to see into this matter and make out whether the economical policy has been worked out correctly", - Minister of Economical Development Lasha Zhvania quoted by Nasha Abkhazia (Our Abkhazia) explained the decision to postpone the auction sale.