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  Channel NewsAsia 30 May 05
Importers of diseased plants face fine of up to $1,000
By Ng Lian Cheong/Julia Ng

SINGAPORE: If you're thinking of bringing home some plants from abroad, make sure they come with a phyto sanitary or plant health certificate. The only exception is if you're bringing in up to three plants from Malaysia. You may be fined up to $1,000 for importing plants that carry exotic pests and diseases.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) says that it has seized some 500 diseased plants at its checkpoints in the last two years.

Rhinocerous beetles may be small but they're a big enemy of plants. Once they creep into the roots, stem and leaves, the plant would rot and die. And, even if just 10 percent of the palm trees here get infected by such pests, it'll cost the government $1.3 million to replace them. With some 1.4 million trees in the Garden City, Singapore is not taking any chances.

The AVA says it inspects and treats all imported plants at the customs checkpoints. Ong Ai Khim, senior plant health officer at AVA's Import Export Division, said: "For importers to bring in plants to Singapore, they need an import permit from AVA and a phyto sanitary certificate from the exporting country to certify that the consignments are free from injurious pests and diseases."

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