The junior Minister for Forestry has expressed his pleasure at the re-start of plywood production by the Barama Company Ltd (two articles published in Guyana Chronicle on Sunday, June 19). This re-start is at a production level of 1600 m3/month, rising to 2400 m3/month, which are 18 and 27 per cent of the installed production capacity of 9000 m3/month (108,000 m3/year). In December 2006, the same Minister was expressing concern that Barama was not fulfilling its (vaguely expressed) investment promises, against which it was receiving tax concessions under its secret foreign direct investment arrangement with the Cabinet. However, in 2006, Barama’s recorded production was 34494 m3, 32 per cent of its capacity. So why is Minister Robert Persaud now expressing satisfaction at a lower level, and without a timeline for reaching even the 27 per cent level?
Potentially good news is a rise in “recovery rate of 11 per cent,” promised by Barama’s Corporate Affairs Secretary and Head of Forest Planning. A rise from what level? In 2006 the volume conversion of log to plywood was about 46 per cent. Is Neil Chand now indicating an increase to 57 per cent? Could Barama’s Head of Forest Planning show how this increase will be achieved and what are the consequences for the log harvest, in terms of volumes per species of timber per hectare per year until the end of Barama’s concession licence period? And as the Guyana Chronicle articles indicate that Barama is purchasing logs, what are the predicted effects on the sustainability of the logging concessions from which it is buying?