Transparency body calls for halt to Vaitarna, Bai Shan Lin operations

In the wake of reports in the press on the logging activities of Indian company Vaitarna and Chinese company Bai Shan Lin, the local transparency body today called on the government to halt their operations.

Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) also called on the government to make available to the public the contracts sealed with the two companies.

The TIGI statement follows:

The Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI) has been following with keen interest the various news reports of the apparent exploitation of our precious forest resources through the indiscriminate logging and exportation of logs, especially by two overseas companies reportedly enjoying substantial concessions from the Government of Guyana. The photographs carried by two news outlets are graphic evidence of the extent to which certain unwelcome practices are undertaken at a time when every effort should be made to protect our forests.

There are conflicting reports whether these companies are permitted to conduct logging operations and to export the logs under the terms and conditions of their respective contracts with the Government. It is also unclear whether their operations are in conformity with our laws, specifically the Guyana Forestry Commission Act and the Environmental Protection Act. TIGI finds it particularly troubling that both the Ministry of National Resources and the Guyana Forestry Commission have chosen to defend the operations of these companies with information that appears incomplete and misleading rather than to seek to protect the patrimony of the country.

In view of the above, TIGI issues an urgent call on the Government to make available publicly the contracts entered into with the two overseas companies, Bai Shan Lin and Vaitarna. In addition, in view of the public outrage at the extent to which these two companies are exploiting our forests resources, TIGI also calls on the Government to place a halt on their operations. We take this opportunity to remind the Government of its obligation under Article 149J (2) of the Constitution which requires the State to “protect the environment, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable and other legislative measures designed to – (a) to prevent pollution and ecological degradation; (b) promote conservation; and (c) secure sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development”.