RM40 million loss in revenue from Johor forest plantation project

Johor-forestJOHOR BAHRU: The absence of specified monitoring and supervision by the Johor State Forestry Department (JPNJ) and the Johor Economic Planning Unit (UPENJ) on the progress of the Forest Plantation Project (PLH) reduced the state government’s revenue by RM42.80 million.

As such, in a bid to ensure the project could meet its objective and is managed prudently, it was recommended that UPENJ and JPNJ collect the arrears of revenue and consider taking firm action against those involved.

According to the Auditor-General’s Report 2016 Series 1, UPENJ and JPNJ should have an integrated system to monitor and supervise every PLH in terms of enforcement and revenue collection.

Both agencies were also advised to look into all agreements which had been signed for correction or renewal purposes by referring to the state government’s legal advisers and relevant technical departments in streamlining the functions and roles of the technical committee so that the timber industry in Johor could have a clearer direction.

According to the report tabled in Parliament today, the state government had granted approval to 10 operators to work on the PLH land covering 73,888.80ha.

However, as at December last year, only 63.3% or 46,767.83ha of the land were developed, 15.2% (11,262.71ha) were left undeveloped, and the remaining 21.5% (15,858.26ha) could not be developed.

“Based on the finer measurement done by the developers through an appointed licensed surveyor, only 58,030.54ha (78.5%) of the land could actually be developed, as compared with the 73,888.80ha mentioned in the agreement.

“This is because the remaining 21.5% or 15,858.26ha was either land with ownership titles, a water catchment area, a wildlife reserve or the Central Forest Spine.

“The auditor-general was also informed that the change in land area was because the approval was based on existing area plans. After detailed border measurements, there were some overlapping of approvals,” the report said.

According to the report, as a result of the difference in land area, the developers had applied for land replacements which later resulted in delays in PLH land opening and the developers having to pay more.

In addition, the shortage of revenue collection was also due to the fact that six developers have yet to pay the usage permit amounting to RM3.35 million; two developers have yet to pay the tapping right for oil palm and rubber trees amounting to RM37.82 million; there was no specific clause on the method of payment and start of payment for an area which is not a forest reserve.