Indonesia: Aussie timber shipments closer after UNJLC moves to help

Sydney, Indonesia-Relief -- UN Joint Logistics Committee in Aceh will now take a facilitating role in organising timber shipments. Bulletin 44 last week confirmed: ''In response to recent inquiries as to whether UNJLC will become involved in lumber procurement, UNJLC will undertake to maintain only information on market prices, identify qualified suppliers, and provide details of relevant government regulations.''

Significantly, the Bulletin said UNJLC will not be directly involved in actual procurement. But the rethink is a move towards to solving recent confusion from conflicting stances.

Last month, it appeared all imported timber would be precluded based on what Indonesian Minister of Forestry M S Kaban told a working commission meeting of the House of Representatives in Jakarta.

''Indonesia does not lack wood for Aceh's rehabilitation following the tsunami disaster,'' he said. ''If anyone is willing to donate wood, they will be much welcomed.''

But UNJLC persisted, saying in a June bulletin that those interested in sourcing imported timber should see Frazer Murray at the British Red Cross office, Jl Fatahillah 29 Geuceu Inem, Banda Aceh - where they could expect to get the benefit of Australia's Trade Commission (Jakarta) advice about Aussie suppliers.

The way for imported timber looked significantly brighter on 6 July, after Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency head Kuntoro Mangkusubroto told a government cabinet meeting that importing timber was essential because of price hikes in Aceh. The report said Aceh forests couldn't supply even a quarter of the estimated 7m cubic metres required.

Meanwhile, UNJLC continues to grapple with the means of import shipment on Aceh's west coast. Last week it continued to advocate the acquisition of additional joint sea transportation assets for non-food items.

A service being proposed to the next sea transportation meeting (at WFP premises) could see landing craft with integral lift capability operating along the west coast between Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, and to Nias and Simeulue.=A9 alan