APNU Member of Parliament Joseph Harmon has told Commissioner of Forests James Singh that he is open to a debate with him on the controversy over Bai Shan Lin’s (BSL) operations here and requested a range of agreements with the Chinese company.
Harmon also said that the debate should be in the public with suitable seating for around 3,000 persons and in a community where the impact of BSL’s operations is felt most.
A copy of the letter follows.
I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 13th August 2014 inviting me to a public debate on the stewardship of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) over the forestry sector of Guyana and the commission’s relationship with Bai Shan Lin (BSL).
I welcome your offer to provide any information which is needed before the event and I am very pleased to know that your subject minister would permit you, a Public Servant to publicly debate an Opposition Member of Parliament.
It is my hope that this major shift in government approach to the release of information will be followed in other areas of national life.
As a prelude to such a debate I would appreciate you providing the Guyanese public with the following information which would help in their understanding of the issues before the event. In the event that GFC is not in possession of the information I am satisfied that you can access it from other agencies of government, since you will be representing them in this matter.
Request for Information
1) Copies of all agreements between (BSL) and (GFC), BSL and Government of Guyana.
2) Copies of all agreements between (BSL) and other entities involved in the Forestry sector for the cutting and export of logs.
3) Report on GFC supervision of the aforesaid agreements and GFC opinion on “Landlord” in the Forestry Sector.
4) Copies of investment agreements with (BSL) requiring the company to set up wood processing facilities in Guyana.
5) Copies of any (GFC) report on (BSL) compliance with the agreement for wood processing facility in Guyana.
6) Copies of any documents related to (BSL) export of logs from Guyana to China over the last five (5) years, and a comparison of the said logs reportedly imported into China and if there is a difference in the figures whether GFC can offer an explanation.
7) Copies of documents related to Duty Free Concessions given to (BSL) including any concessions on Duty Free fuel over the last five (5) years.
8) Disclosure of any agreements between (BSL) and any official of GFC including any tenancy agreements which provides a personal benefit to any official of GFC.
9) Any document relative to the work permits issued to Foreign Nationals on behalf of (BSL) for employment in the Forestry Sector.
10) Any documents relative to the number of Guyanese employed by BSL in the Forestry Sector.
11) The aforesaid is a preliminary list of information I request, and after further consultation with Guyanese at home and abroad others may be added.
I propose a date between the 15th and 30th September 2014. In the meantime you can proceed to make arrangements for the debate which I request be done in a community where the impact of the operation of BSL is felt most.
I would also request that the debate be ‘in the public” and that GFC considers a public space in Linden with suitable seating for about 3,000 persons.
All media houses should have equal access to the debate and the total expenses associated with the event be met by GFC from its resources.
Please feel free to contact Mr. Mark Archer at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition to begin preparations.
You are at liberty to circulate my letter to the media in the same manner you did yours if you so desire.
Joseph. F. Harmon