Why are we allowing foreign companies to export logs with no in-country processing?

Dear Editor,

I read with bemused interest Annalisa Ally’s letter in SN of July 29, captioned ‘Every country seeks to preserve its own business community.’ She goes on to say, “Indeed, Guyana and any other country should welcome overseas investment but such companies will have to make the necessary investments within Guyana and employ Guyanese nationals.”

I urge Ms Ally to provide corroborative information on employment, income tax and NIS payments, and contributions to GDP, measured against tax concessions and government contracts held by the favoured national company. I have no doubt that this information is already available as SN reported two years ago that the CEO of the New GPC invited the Audit Office to carry out a ‘value-for-money’ audit.

Maybe Ms Ally might also be inclined to enquire why overseas companies currently control over 75 per cent of the area under Timber Sales Agreements and State Forest Exploratory Permits. These companies include Bai Shan Lin and Ja Ling from China, and the local subsidiary of the Indian high street retailer Café Coffee Day. Recently we have learned that an Indian hotelier, apparently with similar zero experience of sustainable tropical forest management, is expressing interest in moving into logging in Guyana. And what all these companies have in common apart from gaff as we say, is the export of logs – no in-country processing, no value added, just logs and more logs. Our country’s most valuable natural resource given away for pennies. The question, Editor, is why?

On my way home this evening I passed parked next to the John Fernandes terminal on Mandela Avenue about twenty five 40’ container trucks belonging to Bai Shan Lin, most likely loaded with logs. Maybe more containers were already inside the terminal. All logs, all awaiting export to China.

And I am sure also all those trucks and trailers imported by Bai Shan Lin were imported duty free. So our country gets nothing in and nothing out. Overseas investment indeed.

Yours faithfully,

Howard Bulkan

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