The Minister of Agriculture is violating the constitution in two ways

Dear Editor,

If reported accurately in Stabroek News on June 21 (‘Logs in shipment where cocaine found were in-transit in Jamaica – Singh’), Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud “said it is an official policy not to respond to comments by Bulkan, who, he said, has an agenda and chooses to be misinformed. The ministry and the GFC will not respond to anything she says, Persaud said.”

I suggest that the Minister is violating the National Constitution 1980/2003 (Cap. 01:01) in two ways.  Article 146 says that “no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference and freedom from interference with his correspondence.”

So the Minister is violating my right to receive information about the illegal harvesting and illegal export of timber logs to Jamaica, whether in-transit or as final destination.

Article 149 (1) (b) says that “no person shall be treated in a discriminatory manner by any person acting by virtue of any written law or in the performance of the functions of any public office or any public authority.”  As the Minister is reported as having spoken in his ministerial capacity, he was also discriminating unlawfully against me, because Article 149 (5) does not apply – there is no law of which I am aware which explicitly allows the Minister to discriminate against Janette Bulkan.  Nor has the National Forest Policy 1997 been amended to allow such discrimination.

The forest law (Cap: 67:01 Forests Act 1953/1996 and associated Forest Regulations), on the other hand, is explicit that forest products cannot be harvested from State Forests without a valid concession, and that concessions cannot be transferred from one holder to another entity without prior permission; from the President in the case of Timber Sales Agreements and from the Guyana Forestry Commission in the case of State Forest Permissions such as the SFP held by Aroaima Forest Producers Association which is alleged to have been rented to a Chinese national.

I referred in similar letters to SN in 2006 to the precise articles in the forest law and the precise section in the Forest Regulations about the illegality of rentier practices.  Forest products harvested from agricultural leases for commercial sale require a licence from the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission, under part VIII of the State Lands Regulations 1973 (Cap. 62:01).

In addition, Articles 157 and 158 in the Customs law (Cap. 82:01) prohibit and penalize false declarations about exports, such as the use of a false name for the export of the timber logs to Jamaica.

Yours faithfully,
Janette Bulkan

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