Manufacturers association President, Clinton Williams is threatening to recuse himself from spearheading its engagement with the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the Natural Resources Ministry on the Bai Shan Lin logging controversy if the body’s business continues to be leaked to the press.
In light of accusations made against Chinese forestry company Bai Shan Lin in recent weeks, Williams and the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) is probing the matter on behalf of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) which has pledged to support the effort.
Last Thursday, Williams told this newspaper that he was preparing to send correspondence to the GFC to request the agreement by which the Chinese logging company is allowed to operate in Guyana’s logging sector. Williams had said that the agreements with other operators would be sought as the organization looks to establish the standing of all logging operations.
He noted with annoyance however, that information was being leaked from the GMSA’s meetings, a reality he said he was not happy with.
His threat was published in the form of a letter, captioned “Open letter to the membership of GMSA,” in the August 16 edition of the Guyana Times. In the letter Williams tells the members of the GMSA that measures he has undertaken with regard to the Bai Shan Lin matter seem to have taken on a political agenda.
This, he said, is insinuated “by consecutive deliberate leakages, first the contents of the meeting that was held two days ago, and secondly the contents of a draft letter circulated, intended to be sent to the Minister/Commissioner of Forests, which was circulated to the membership for comments.”
Williams believes the leaks are intended to prevent “the GMSA from taking a transparent and unbiased, and hence an objective, approach to the allegations made.”
“…I would find it very difficult to engage the subject Minister and/or the Commissioner on this matter, particularly because from the inception, when consulted, I refused to recuse myself from pursuing this matter as President of the GMSA,” he also said.
He nevertheless said that “…I would have no option than to withdraw from any further engagement and/or consultations on behalf of the GMSA on this matter” if information continues to be leaked to the press.
Contacted yesterday on whether he is still probing the matter on behalf of the PSC, he responded in the affirmative. He was unwilling though, to elaborate on the issues, including leaks, he is confronted with at the level of the GMSA. Williams said that the group is a private entity and that he believes its matters should be dealt with as such.
With regard to his request for the Bai Shan Lin/GFC agreement Williams says a written request was sent. He could not say when a response would be forthcoming but he expects one “as soon as possible.” Williams noted the allegations that have been made by various news outlets with respect to the operations of Bai Shan Lin but he says the GMSA cannot take a position until it is furnished with, and has had a chance to pursue its agreement with the Government of Guyana through the GFC.
The document, he said, will tell the GMSA if the company has approval to export logs, to which destinations, the amount it is allowed to export, and whether they are allowed to export square or round logs. Other than this Williams would say no more. It is being alleged that Bai Shan Lin is involved in several ventures which breach its contract, including the exportation of more logs than it is permitted to. Both Bai Shan Lin and the GFC have repeatedly denied this.