Asian companies are given millions of acres of virgin forest to export logs but a Guyanese manufacturer cannot lease 10 acres

Dear Editor,

Our company, Superior Shingles & Wood Products Inc. (SSWP), has plans to develop a 10-acre, timber processing depot approximately 40 miles along the Linden-Lethem (Mabura) road. This processing depot will help small wallaba suppliers in the area to transport their produce easily to a market in close physical proximity to their concessions, negating the need for these people to undertake unproductive and expensive trips out of the interior to transact their business. At this depot SSWP will cut the round logs into blocks suitable for conversion to sawn shingles and the company will benefit from having to truck less waste to our primary manufacturing plant. The biodegrable wood waste will be left in the forest for natural reintegration by Mother Nature. We envision it to be a ‘win-win-win’ situation.

On April 28, 2014, we had a meeting with the Commissioner of Forests (CoF) to advise him of these plans and to seek his input on the way forward. The CoF advised that while the project would have the support of the Guyana Forestry Commission, we would need to apply for the state land through the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GL&SC).

On April 29, 2014, we met with the Commissioner of Lands & Surveys and shortly after officially applied to the GL&SC.

At the end of November 2014, some seven months later, I received a letter from the Manager of the Land Administration Division of the GL&SC dated October 22, 2014 advising that my “request has been placed on file” and that I “will be invited to attend an interview when a parcel of land is available.”

Obviously perplexed by such a vague response to a very specific application, we again met with Commissioner Persaud of the GLSC on December 4, 2014, in an effort to establish some clarity on the matter. Editor, here is where we delve into the realm of the extraordinary. We have been advised that in 2004 a specially convened Land Use Planning Committee, headed by former Commissioner of the GL&SC Mr Andrew Bishop, submitted to cabinet a land use plan for either side of the 268 miles roadway connecting Linden to Lethem. Since that report was submitted a decade ago, there has been no further action by government and consequently, allegedly no application for the lease of state lands along this significant stretch of roadway can be processed. The GFC can give out millions of acres of virgin forest lands to Asians who are simply exporting unprocessed round logs, but a Guyanese manufacturer cannot lease 10 acres in his own country.

We did ask the responsible Minister for an explanation and in return got an acknowledgement of our letter from his Permanent Secretary.

Editor what is really going on?

Yours faithfully,

Howard Bulkan

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