Illegal cut of forests in Georgia reached a catastrophic scale. As “Dilis Gazeti” writes “Approach to thetimber business depends on orientation of leading forces in the Government. Therefore it is explainable why did the supreme legislative body of the Country decide to prohibit export of the timber and cancelled these decisions for the same amount of times”.
The newspaper thinks, that only few persons benefit from the business but not the state and the fact that the budget earned only mere 60 000 laris from timber export last year strengthens this suggestion. For instance, Austria, which possesses much less forests than Georgia has one million USD annually from this source. The newspaper also mentions that there are only two persons in Georgia detained for timber smuggling. “But where are others – we ask. Others are right here in this building [Parliament] – would say Zurab Zhvania, Speaker of the Parliament. No one was amazed by this statement of the Speaker at the meeting of faction “Majoritarian” because parliamentarians themselves realize that this is true,” says “Dilis Gazeti”
Meeting revealed the mechanism of timber smuggling: local authorities, governors, police chiefs, prosecutors have closed type companies created where they use “almost slavery labor of a poor people. They pay 30 laris per one cubic mere of timber to them. Then ‘feudals’ themselves or their trustees convoy customs point where they make arrangements with the customs and border guard officers and… the money is in the pocket”.
There is also one very interesting detail. One customs point in Georgia registered only 150 cubic meters of exported timber, but an Armenian post just few meters away on the opposite side registered 5,500 cubic meters of imported timber.