Forest stakeholders in the country are currently studying 62 applications from forest exploitation and conservation companies aspiring to toe the line of legality that government has instituted.
An inter-ministerial commission tasked with awarding exploitation permits began working on the files on Monday July 16, soon after their installation by the Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Ngole Philip Ngwese.
The commission is studying applications by forest exploiters who want to operate in the country following a call for tenders launched on May 30, 2012 by the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife to give out permits to 18 exploiters and one conservator in the dense forest of Ngoyla-Mintom in the East and South Regions.
"They are to examine the files and propose to government viable candidates who can efficiently and in a sustainable manner, manage our forests," Mr. Ngole Philip Ngwese said. Coming on the heels of repeated instances of corruption in the forestry sector aided by not-so-efficient legislation like the 1994 forestry and wildlife law, and the ungentlemanly behaviour of some officials, the Minister noted that the time for cacophony was over.
"The challenges are many. You have a great number of operators who have difficulties abiding by the rules and regulations in force. There are people who think that by taking shortcuts, they could succeed. There is this phenomenon of corruption which is rampant. We have taken enough precautions to ensure that the commission avails itself of the opportunity to do a clean job. We trust that at the end of the process, the bidders retained would be the best so far," the MINFOF boss wished.
The Minister made it clear that companies guilty of illegal lodging -whose list was published recently by his ministry - would not be selected until they pay their fines or are acquitted of the cases pending in courts. The commission has until July 30 to submit its results.