The Agriculture Ministry collected more than $2 million in forestry revenue during the first three months of this year.
A ministry report issued on April 22, and obtained yesterday, said it collected about $2.3 million in riel and also $69,281 in licensing and export revenue.
It noted that during the period it collected revenue from five companies which exported furniture and timber, and issued licences for three companies to export and two to import logs.
The report said the ministry also conducted checks on 15 timber-processing companies to see if they complied with regulations.
“The Ministry of Agriculture also cracked down on 195 cases of forestry and wildlife crimes of which 117 cases were issued fines and 78 were sent to court,” it said.
The report noted that the ministry seized 96 cubic meters of wood, 342 cubic meters of sawn wood and two cubic meters of rosewood during the crackdowns, adding that it also confiscated 80 kilograms of mixed wildlife .
Last year, the ministry collected more than $4.5 million in forestry revenue.
Heng Sros, a forestry activist, yesterday said that he was happy that the ministry had collected more than $2 million in forestry revenue for the first three months of the year.
“I congratulate the Ministry of Agriculture for collecting so much revenue for the state,” he said. “However, I am not happy that there are still some companies which illegally log and export timber which deprives the state of revenue.”
Mr Sros noted that based on his observations the amount of revenue collected by the ministry was disproportionate to the number of trees cut down in forests through logging in the Kingdom.
“Please the government and Agriculture Ministry strictly monitor companies which are allowed to log and export wood and protect the forests by cracking down more on forestry crimes to prevent illegal logging and exports,” he said.
Mr Sros claimed that the forestry crimes happened because some authorities colluded with illegal loggers.
Srey Vuthy, ministry spokesman, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
In March, Prime Minister Hun Sen told the National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention and relevant officials to continue to crack down on illegal logging and prevent the export of illegal logs.
“The NCFCP, which is being led by [General] Sao Sokha, must continue to strengthen the management of natural resources, especially by curbing the export of timber and other forest products at the border with efficiency and transparency,” he said during the ministry’s annual conference.
According to an NCFCP report, officials cracked down on more than 330 forestry crimes throughout the Kingdom last year. It added that 65 people are facing prosecution and a working group confiscated more than 4,000 cubic metres of timber.
Gen Sokha, who is head of NCFCP and deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, said in the report that small-scale smuggling of logs still occur and is a challenge that needs to be addressed.