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Vladimir Putin criticises officials for situation in forestry sector

April 12, 2013, 11:18 UTC+3

In the view of the president, corruption is rampant in the industry, there are many cases of illegal logging, as well as the inaction of law enforcement agencies on these issues

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President Vladimir Putin held a visiting session of the State Council, in which made an attempt to restore order in the forestry sector. In the view of the president, corruption is rampant in the industry, there are many cases of illegal logging, as well as the inaction of law enforcement agencies on these issues. On the meeting results he gave instructions to dismiss head of the Federal Forestry Agency (Rosleskhoz) Viktor Maslyakov.

The meeting of the State Council presidium in Ulan-Ude was deciding how to save the forest industry, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper writes. Corruption is rampant in this sphere, the auctions are not transparent, there is much illegal logging, and the law enforcement agencies are often inactive, and Rosleskhoz and a number of regions distort information, the president said indignantly, actually declaring a war on the barbarians the forest destroyers.

Russia is the largest timber power, the president stressed. “So how we manage this potential?” he asked rhetorically and read out the conclusions of the ad hoc group. There is reliable information on forest resources only on 19 percent of the territories. The reason for this is the decentralisation of forest management. Under the new Forest Code the authority to develop forest plans was transferred to regions that only formally handle the problem, and the funding of the forestry management work has been minimised.

“So we had to resume federal funding,” Putin recalled. In 2012, the sum of 300 million roubles was allocated, but this is not enough, but before increasing the funding it is necessary to analyse the efficiency of the use of funds, he said. It is planned to spend a total of over 400 billion roubles within the framework of 118 projects for the development of the forest industry.

Another reason for the deplorable situation is seven-fold personnel reduction in the industry, and their average age is close to 60. It is necessary to encourage the inflow of young cadres, the president is certain.

One of the problems, according to the president, is caused by the fact that one-fifth of the forests has now been leased for wood harvesting and processing, and the organised auctions are not transparent, the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper writes.

The situation in the industry is alarming illegal logging and illegal timber trade are inflicting serious damage on the economy, emphasises the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper. According to official data, illegal logging accounts for up to 35 percent of the total harvested wood. Each year, about 27.1 thousand cases of illegal logging are recorded and the damage from them amounts to about 14 billion roubles. However, independent experts have cast doubt on these figures. And they have found an ally in the face of Putin, who on Thursday exposed the fraud of the Federal Forestry Agency and regions as they give distorted information.

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