LUSAKA, Nov 7 - All 24 companies which applied for timber licences following the withdrawal of licences and introduction of new rules have failed to meet the revised criteria, Parliament heard yesterday.
Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources Deputy Minister Neddy Nzowa said Government directed all the pit-sawyers and commercial companies to re-apply following abuse of timber licences.
Mr Nzowa was responding to Luena MP Crispin Sibetta (UPND) who accused Government of having corruptly awarded a licence to a Chinese national who was now over-exploiting timber in his constituency.
The deputy minister said nobody had a licence to exploit timber in Luena constituency because all those who applied failed to meet the criteria.
"Those who will qualify will be required to re-plant the areas that they are cutting. Western Province is the most exploited and we will be very strict," he said.
Mr Nzowa said under the new licensing system, Government would regulate the number of people going into the forests as that had led to the drying of rivers across the country.
And Lands Minister Judith Kangoma-Kapijimpanga said she would investigate reports that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had encroached into Zambia and was flying its flag in parts of Chienge.
This followed a question by Chienge MP Katele Kalumba (MMD) who wanted to know whether the boundary with DRC was consistent with the 1894 treaty between Britain and Belgium.
Meanwhile, the parliamentary committee on Government assurances has criticised Government for failing to honour several commitments it made before its report was adopted.
Committee chairman Mangango MP Crispin Shumina (FDD) said some assurances made as far back as 1986 had not been honoured, among them, the repair and construction of roads, on account of lack of money.
But Mr Shumina hailed the Education ministry for implementing five of the eight commitments made using donor funds or other resources under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
Several opposition MPs expressed concern at Government's failure to honour its pledges, saying that was retarding national development.
In response, Vice-President Nevers Mumba called on the opposition to offer solutions instead of just criticising without offering any remedies.