GMSA to seek disclosure on terms for foreign logging operations

The Guyana Manufactur-ing and Services Associa-tion (GMSA) will be moving for access to the agreements under which all foreign investors are permitted to operate in Guyana’s forestry sector, in order to ensure they are operating within agreed parameters, president of the group Clinton Williams said on Thursday.

Williams said the GMSA would be sending its request for the agreements to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), in light of concerns about the large scale exports of logs by Bai Shan Lin and Vaitarna Holdings Private Inc (VHPI) with little benefit to the country. He noted the claims made against Bai Shan Lin in every edition of Kaieteur News this week as well as an article on the operations of VHPI in Thursday’s edition of the Stabroek News.

The GMSA, Williams explained, met on Wednesday to “look at (all) Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the forestry sector” and to discuss possible infractions and violations on the part of said investors. He, however, said that the GMSA does not know the requirements in the agreements/contracts under which companies such as Bai Shan Lin and Vaitarna are allowed by government to extract and export logs.

GMSA’s board, he continued, has therefore asked him to request the necessary documents for perusal. Williams could not say exactly when the correspondence will be sent but he is hoping for a response by next week once it is sent.

If it is found that any company is violating the terms of its agreement, he promised that GMSA will advocate for a correction of the situation. The GMSA has no powers to take action so it will be left to the GFC to confront any delinquent company.

President of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Ramesh Persaud also could not comment on the legality of lack thereof of the activities of Bai Shan Lin or Vaitarna as neither he nor the commission is familiar with the details of the agreements/contracts they entered into with government. He, however, pointed out that the GMSA is taking the lead in confronting the matter and that the PSC will be offering support in whatever way it can or is required.

Processing plants and value added

On Wednesday, Stabroek News reported that Vaitarna continues to export large quantities of logs despite failing to set up a wood processing facility as per the agreements which facilitated the commencement of its operations. In January of this year, Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud told this newspaper that the Vaitarna would start construction of a processing facility in the first quarter of this year, after which processing could begin within six or eight months.

However, though the company cleared land with the intent of setting up the facility and despite assurances by Persaud that the company is in an “advanced” stage of setting up such a facility, no construction has started.

In 2011, Persaud had said that there would be no large scale exportation of logs by the company as it was committed to downstream activities – processing. “VHPI is not here as a logging company but will be involved in value added,” the minister had said.

He had also said that the GFC informed him that VHPI’s processing facility is located at the company’s log yard at Wineperu. “The facility is being constructed on an area of approximately 30,000 square feet. The land has been cleared; the surveying and design of the structure is in progress; and construction is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2014,” Persaud explained.

 

The minister also said that equipment had been purchased to facilitate swift commencement of processing as soon as the facility started operations. However, there was no sight of the plant or the alluded to machinery when Stabroek News visited the area on Tuesday.

What was visible were stockpiles of logs, some of which have obviously been there a while as their markers were faded and ineligible and they were rotting. Neither Williams nor Persaud would comment on the absence of the plant as they say they are not intimate with the agreement and the timelines for such developments therein.

Both men, however, say it is imperative that government take steps to ensure that foreign companies engage in value-added activities as it affords Guyana a host of advantages and ensures the country get optimum compensation for the extraction of its non-renewable resources.

Comments  

Billions diverted by prison unrest partly to blame for GuySuCo severance shortfall in budget – Trotman

Alliance for Change (AFC) leader Raphael Trotman yesterday said the diversion of billions to the security sector after the destruction of the Camp Street prison was partly responsible for the government not budgeting the full sum for severance payments to laid off sugar workers.

Cops seek motive for Pomeroon murders

  The police were up to yesterday afternoon still working to ascertain the motive behind the murders of Ambrose Baharally and Martin Godette, the Pomeroon farmers who were shot dead on Sunday and a potential witness was taken into custody to assist with the investigation.

Ramotar claims gov’t ignored promised India loans for sugar industry

Former President Donald Ramotar has accused the current government of accepting loans from India that he initiated except those pertaining to the rehabilitation of the sugar industry but State Minister Joseph Harmon says he is unaware of the claim and has urged that the former head of state prove it.

Child rapist sentenced to 45 years

Omadat Persaud, who was on trial for raping a five-year-old girl in 2015, was yesterday afternoon sentenced to 45 years in jail after a jury unanimously convicted him of the crime.

Mother urges justice for vendor killed by city cop

The mother of Marlon Fredericks, the mentally-challenged vendor who was fatally shot by a member of the city constabulary on Sunday, yesterday called for justice for her son, while saying that an autopsy found that he died of a gunshot wound to his chest.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now

×