GMSA to seek disclosure on terms for foreign logging operations

The Guyana Manufactur-ing and Services Associa-tion (GMSA) will be moving for access to the agreements under which all foreign investors are permitted to operate in Guyana’s forestry sector, in order to ensure they are operating within agreed parameters, president of the group Clinton Williams said on Thursday.

Williams said the GMSA would be sending its request for the agreements to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), in light of concerns about the large scale exports of logs by Bai Shan Lin and Vaitarna Holdings Private Inc (VHPI) with little benefit to the country. He noted the claims made against Bai Shan Lin in every edition of Kaieteur News this week as well as an article on the operations of VHPI in Thursday’s edition of the Stabroek News.

The GMSA, Williams explained, met on Wednesday to “look at (all) Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the forestry sector” and to discuss possible infractions and violations on the part of said investors. He, however, said that the GMSA does not know the requirements in the agreements/contracts under which companies such as Bai Shan Lin and Vaitarna are allowed by government to extract and export logs.

GMSA’s board, he continued, has therefore asked him to request the necessary documents for perusal. Williams could not say exactly when the correspondence will be sent but he is hoping for a response by next week once it is sent.

If it is found that any company is violating the terms of its agreement, he promised that GMSA will advocate for a correction of the situation. The GMSA has no powers to take action so it will be left to the GFC to confront any delinquent company.

President of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Ramesh Persaud also could not comment on the legality of lack thereof of the activities of Bai Shan Lin or Vaitarna as neither he nor the commission is familiar with the details of the agreements/contracts they entered into with government. He, however, pointed out that the GMSA is taking the lead in confronting the matter and that the PSC will be offering support in whatever way it can or is required.

Processing plants and value added

On Wednesday, Stabroek News reported that Vaitarna continues to export large quantities of logs despite failing to set up a wood processing facility as per the agreements which facilitated the commencement of its operations. In January of this year, Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud told this newspaper that the Vaitarna would start construction of a processing facility in the first quarter of this year, after which processing could begin within six or eight months.

However, though the company cleared land with the intent of setting up the facility and despite assurances by Persaud that the company is in an “advanced” stage of setting up such a facility, no construction has started.

In 2011, Persaud had said that there would be no large scale exportation of logs by the company as it was committed to downstream activities – processing. “VHPI is not here as a logging company but will be involved in value added,” the minister had said.

He had also said that the GFC informed him that VHPI’s processing facility is located at the company’s log yard at Wineperu. “The facility is being constructed on an area of approximately 30,000 square feet. The land has been cleared; the surveying and design of the structure is in progress; and construction is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2014,” Persaud explained.

 

The minister also said that equipment had been purchased to facilitate swift commencement of processing as soon as the facility started operations. However, there was no sight of the plant or the alluded to machinery when Stabroek News visited the area on Tuesday.

What was visible were stockpiles of logs, some of which have obviously been there a while as their markers were faded and ineligible and they were rotting. Neither Williams nor Persaud would comment on the absence of the plant as they say they are not intimate with the agreement and the timelines for such developments therein.

Both men, however, say it is imperative that government take steps to ensure that foreign companies engage in value-added activities as it affords Guyana a host of advantages and ensures the country get optimum compensation for the extraction of its non-renewable resources.

More in Local News

Indrawattie Chandradeo and her two remaining sons and her only daughter in tears at their home yesterday

Two men, teen boy found shot to death at Mibicuri Creek

By Bebi Oosman   The bodies of two men and a teenage boy, bearing gunshot wounds, were discovered yesterday at Mibicuri Creek, Black Bush Polder and police had one person in custody up to late last night facing questions about their shocking deaths.

Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson and contractors checking out the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) booth at the procurement symposium for new entrant contractors, which was held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre yesterday. (Minister of Public Infrastructure photo)

Patterson underlines need for transparency in public procurement

Speaking at a symposium for new and existing contractors, Minister of Public Infrastructure (MPI) David Patterson yesterday stressed the need for transparency in the huge public procurement sector and added that distrust in the system has to be dispelled.

default placeholder

Granger says evidence of dereliction needed for Lawrence’s removal

Minister of Social Protection Volda Lawrence would be removed from office once evidence is presented supporting her dereliction of duty, according to President David Granger, who has lauded her for her work so far.

Dr Madhu Singh (at right) with the team of doctors during the press conference

Dr. Balwant Singh’s Hospital saves heart patient given 48 hours to live

Dr Balwant Singh’s Hospital Inc recently performed its first ever pericardiectomy on a 27-year-old patient who had been given 48 hours to live while hospitalised at another institution.

default placeholder

Private Sector flays City Hall over ‘unlawful’ container fees

While the Private Sector Commission (PSC) has agreed that the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) needs to collect revenue, it has lambasted the council for doing so without consultation and in an unlawful manner.

default placeholder

Dutch team urges more proactive approach to flood management

A largely reactive approach to flood situations has worked well under the circumstances but the current flood management system is vulnerable and may collapse dramatically under extreme conditions, according to a report from a Dutch risk reduction team, which has urged a more proactive approach.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.



Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: