THE Copperbelt Woodworkers Association (CWA) says there is no justification for the Zambia Forestry and Forest Industry Corporation’s (ZAFFICO) exorbitant prices on round wood and has declared support for the Zambia National Association of Sawmillers (ZNAS) petition to President Edgar Lungu.
Association chairperson Benson Musantu said members were appalled by the unjustified exorbitant prices for round wood that they had been subjected to by ZAFFICO for a long time which he said was not only uneconomic but a hindrance to the growth of the timber industry.
Mr Musantu said it was unfortunate that ZAFFICO was taking advantage of the monopoly it was enjoying to exploit players in the sector and appealed to Government to seriously consider the petition by ZNAS to President Lungu in order to address the problem.
“The CWA would like to give solidarity to ZNAS complaint submitted to President Lungu over the alleged abnormal and excessive out-of-reach round wood prices by ZAFFICO because it is a fact that ZAFFICO management has imposed a heavy round wood prices on small scale sawmillers.
“The current price of round wood has no economic justification from ZAFFICO who seems to enjoy the monopoly and dominance in supply of pine (exotic) wood raw material. After impartial investigative report on allegation of abuse of dominance against ZAFFICO by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), the report revealed a yearly price progression an unjustified increase structure,” Mr. Musantu said.
He said as a result of the unregulated upward price adjustments which were not cost reflective, small scale sawmillers had found it very difficult to meet the high prices and meeting the ZAFFICO conditions and that most of them had been kicked out of business, thereby laying off hundreds of workers.
The CWA has complained that small scale sawmillers have for past one and a half years been playing a role of ZAFFICO sales agents without a commission or a profit in their business.
“Our conclusion is that the two associations; ZNAS and CWA, are justified in their demand for the need to lower the prices and we hereby demand that ZAFFICO reduces the price of round wood to create a balanced trade and save jobs.
“ZAFFICO should also classify its saw logs because some of the logs sold on average price are too small for a standard size of sawn timber.
The three wood industry associations are still appealing for an intervention by President Lungu to save the industry from total collapse,” he said.
Two months ago, ZNAS petitioned President Lungu to intervene in the alleged exploitation of small scale saw millers by ZAFFICO, a parastatal body, through prohibitive prices of round wood.