ALOR STAR, 11 Dec 11 2008: The Kedah state government is firm in its stand to cut trees in state forest reserve land if the federal government refuses to do good on its promise to pay RM100 million a year.
Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak said today he was still holding to the promise of the federal government which had given its commitment to pay the money to replace the loss of income if the state did not fell timber in the forest reserve areas.
“I will demand…unless it is given I will demand. If they don’t give, there’s no money, I will cut. But we have not yet disturbed the areas,” Azizan told reporters when asked about developments on the matter.
The PAS-helmed state government had made the demand in the middle of this year after the federal government had withdrawn the promise to pay the amount after Kedah fell to the Pakatan Rakyat in the 8 March general election.
Azizan, who was met after he had officiated at an Aidiladha gathering of Kedah undergraduates at his offical residence ‘Seri Mentaloon’, said logging did not involve water catchment areas.
He said the choice available to Kedah to generate funds for development projects was only through timber income.
“The income from timber in the Hulu Muda area in the Padang Terap district can only meet state spending for 30 years,” Azizan said without mentioning the size of the area.
He said beginning next year the state government will have open tenders for logging as it would generate more income compared to the present system of awarding and negotiations.
“The state government gets RM16.5 million for 1,000 hectares through tendering compared to RM3-4 million only through awarding and negotiating,” he said.
Azizan said RM35 million is expected to be collected next year through open tenders involving an area of 2,400ha.
“Right now the state government is sticking to offering 2,400ha of timber land each year and I give assurance that there will re-planting in areas where trees are felled so that Kedah does not face an extinction of trees,” he said. — Bernama