Kaoma council increases levy on timber

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Kaoma District Council in Western Province has increased the levy imposed on timber by 500 per cent to curb the indiscriminate harvesting of the natural resource.
District Council secretary Fidelis Chanda confirmed the hike of the timber levy, which he said was being used as a deterrent measure to control the haphazard harvesting of the natural resource in the area.

But timber merchants in the district have bemoaned the increase of the levy by the council saying the move is counter-productive as it will have negative effects on local traders.

Traders talked to disclosed that the council has increased timber levy from K30 per cubic meter to K150 per cubic meter.

One of the traders Kenny Ndumba said the K120 hike in the council levy on timber was detrimental to the locals whose capital base is limited, adding that the system needs to be revised as there was double levying since exporters have to make further payments when exporting.

But in justifying the increase, Mr Chanda said the timber logging in the area has become rampant and the local authority was losing hundreds of cubic meters in unpaid levy.

He said other than the economic aspect, the trend has had a negative environmental impact and accused the traders in the district of assisting Chinese investors in harvesting timber as they do not have the necessary machinery.

But Mr Ndumba said there is no way the traders can evade paying the council levy on timber as there are several check-points on the routes to the market.

He said the increase in the levy will not change anything because only those who obtained production licences much earlier are currently harvesting timber since government halted the issuance of production licences in March 2014.

Mr Ndumba refuted assertions that the locals are aiding Chinese investors in harvesting timber. He has since appealed to government to intervene in the matter if they are to benefit from the natural resource.

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