Government is struggling to recover about K196 million from Timber Millers Association (TMA) in Chikangawa Forest.
Last year according t o Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, the union was owing the government K640 million for plots they were allocated to harvest.
But in an interview on Thursday, Director of Forestry, Clement Chilima, said some of the people within the union have committed to pay the debt but some are refusing saying they do not owe government such kind of money.
“We have not yet recovered the money. At the moment we have a little amount with us because individuals in the association are refusing and we have involved lawyers on the matter,” he said.
Chilima was unable to disclose the total amount of money recovered so far and asked for more time to do so.
“I would not want to comment on the figures, but I have asked some of the officers who are also dealing with the matter to compile a file and tomorrow I will be able to tell you everything,” he said.
However, The Daily Times has also learnt that the total some of the money has dropped than reported earlier.
In a letter that Deputy Director of Forestry sent to Viphya Plantation on June 30 2016, Reference number 8/76/records indicate that the association has an outstanding debt amounting to K196,383,161.05.
In the letter, government has warned the association of finding other means of recovering the money if they fail to settle the debt in time.
When contacted to comment on the matter, TMA President Paul Mthambazale dismissed the claims that they are declining to honour the debt and said members of the union are in the process of settling the amount.
“That is a big lie. We are paying only that we are giving them little by little considering the economic hard times we are facing. Am sure by today the figure has dropped. If they are saying that we do not want to pay, as a chair I can tell you that it is not true,” he said.
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