According to Mikhail Kasyanov, the Prime Minister of Russia, despite being the owner of 25% of world's timber reserves, our country accounts for just 3% of the World's timber market. The meeting of the government where this statement was made convened today to consider the concept of the development of Russia's timber industry for the years 2001 through 2010.
According to the government's Department of Information, Mr. Kasyanov is certain that even without extraordinary measures of any kind the industry can annually grow by 5%, in certain areas of production even by 8%. The Prime Minister points out that what Russia exports for USD 40 is imported for USD 500.
'At this time, in Russia', he said, 'only 15% is felled of what is possible', adding that most of Russia's woods were not easily accessible and 'nothing is done to move felling away from cities and villages'. The minister also mentioned that paper imports had grown by 25% over the year 2001 and now 35% of all paper consumed in the country was imported.
This is the reason to introduce governmental control of timber industry and investments therein. Regional and federal prerogatives as to such control must be clearly defined. Companies felling timber must also be held responsible for replenishing it under governmental control.
On Tuesday, June 17, the government approved the concept of the development of timber industry that had been prepared by the Ministries of Nature and Science. Ilya Klebanov, the Minister of Science, Technologies, and Industry, said an exact plan of action to fulfil the programme must be worked out within a fortnight and no later than in September finalised and again approved by the government. To curb imports in favour of exports, it was suggested customs tariffs on ready products be gradually lowered while tariffs on round timber exports as gradually raised. To ease for lessees of timber forests to more receiving bank loans, it was suggested to enable them to use their leasing rights as collateral. In the meantime, the minister said 1 to 5 years lease terms were ridiculous and could not get companies interested while normal lease terms were from minimum 50 to 100 years, which was also the time needed for the growth of new timber.