Two Asian loggers granted waiver of import duties totalling US$5M

Dear Editor,

The list of beneficiaries of “Revenue loss” granted by the Government of Guyana in 2007, which was published in the Guyana Chronicle on January 25, 2009, shows that the Asian loggers continue to benefit from a waiver of import duties, even while they declare no taxable earnings year after year, employ only a small number of Guyanese at the lowest paying jobs and export our prime hard and heavy timbers at the lowest prices worldwide for comparable woods, an indication of under-reporting of FOB value; contrary to Customs law.

The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) waived over US$6 million in taxes due by 19 timber companies in 2007. Of that total, two Asian loggers benefited from the waiver of over US$5 million, or 83 % of all waivers.  Barama Company Ltd took 65 per cent and Bai Shan Lin 18 per cent of all the forest sector exemptions, leaving just 17 per cent for the remaining forestry companies.

Jailing Timber Company, which had obtained a waiver of approximately US$90,000 in 2006, is absent from the 2007 data, helping to confirm that it has been sold to Bai Shan Lin. Jailing Timber Company had sold a 51 per cent equity interest in Guyana’s forests to Seapower Resources International Limited in 2007 for a consideration of US$19.8 million.

Through your newspaper I would like to ask again the following questions of Go-Invest, GRA and the Ministry of Finance:

What total investment in Guyana in Financial Year 2007 was shown in the audited accounts of the Asian recipients? How much of that investment was brought in from outside the country? And, what profits, capital sums, interest payments or payments for management charges levied by expatriate owners were exported outside Guyana in the same period of time?

Now that Guyana has waived US$5,148,470 to these two Asian loggers, what taxes did they pay over the same period?

How many Guyanese registered on the NIS roll did these two Asian loggers employ during 2007?

How many Asians did they employ, in their offices and in the forests, directly and indirectly, including contractors, and in their illegally rented concessions?

Yours faithfully,
Janette Bulkan

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