Timber: The new timber distribution modality was developed without consulting the Association of Wood-Based Industries (AWBI), members claim.

This, the association members claimed, will have a significant adverse impact on them since they made huge investments in their companies. “It also contradicts the Constitution mandate to foster private sector development,” AWBI president, Rinchen Khandu, said.

He also claimed that the agriculture ministry had actually directed the Natural Resources Development Corporation Ltd (NRDCL) to develop the modality in close consultation with the stakeholders. “But NRDCL did not carry out any consultation as per the directives,” the president said. “NRDCL neglected the directives but in fact started implementing the new system by inviting saw millers to register for sawing of timber.”

The members also refuted NRDCL’s claims of monopoly in the timber business in the present system, which resulted in the hike of timber prices.

Rinchen Khandu said the price of timber was brought down to Nu 125 from Nu 450 per cft (cubic feet) in 2007. “The real monopoly would begin if NRDCL becomes the sole distributor,” he said.

He also alleged that after NRDCL was clubbed under Druk Holdings and Investment, NRDCL hiked the price of timber by charging exorbitant prices on logs. “The government changed the system of direct allotment of timber to customers to control illegal timber activities, minimise timber wastage and for value adding on timber waste.”

Rinchen Khandu also said timber allotment was done through sawmill owners for private sector growth.

NRDCL CEO Karma Dukpa, in an earlier interview with Kuensel, said there was timber wastage as sawmill owners were using outdated technologies.

But AWBI members claim that as of today there are 20 updated high technology machines and some sawmill owners are in the process of updating it.

Meanwhile, AWBI members, in the last meet with the Prime Minister, also met with the works and human settlement minister Dorji Choden.

The Prime Minister suggested the AWBI members to explore the possibility of venturing into the production of fabricated wooden components for buildings.

Rinchen Khandu said the AWBI members were thankful for the government’s decision to use fabricated wooden components for government construction projects. “We are grateful to government for the noble initiatives and looking forward for private sector growth and to be a part of the vibrant productive private sector,” he said. “The sawmill owners and wood based industries are committed to work hard, generate revenue and create employment opportunities for our youth.”

Tashi Dema