Government is still awaiting documentation from Baishanlin and in the absence of this, has been unable to decide on whether to grant the two-year extension requested by the company to fulfill its obligations.
“It still awaits some documentation vis-à-vis its financing, viability, we are awaiting that so as it is now there is nothing happening, we don’t have sufficient (information) in which to even give it an objective review,” Minister of Governance Raphael Trotman said yesterday when questioned on the matter at his post-cabinet media briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency.
Last month, Trotman had said that restructuring and lack of financing are hampering Baishanlin in meeting Government’s year-end edict to begin substantial value-added production or face the revocation of its contract.
Trotman had told reporters at a post-cabinet press briefing that he was informed that Baishanlin was in no position to have the mills that are expected within the next 10 months, and have instead asked for two years to acquire them.
“We have had discussions with them about an alternative mill or wood mill that would be available here in the region, but that is ongoing,” Trotman said.
He said that much depends on Baishanlin securing new financing. He added that while this is on-going, engagement between the government and the wood company is “on pause.”
“I am led to believe that the company is in the process of restructuring and when this is over, under the guidance of the Chinese government or state, then it will reengage with government,” he said, according to a report from the Government Information Agency (GINA).
Baishanlin has been accused of focusing only on the export of logs while making lofty promises of value-added production. The previous PPP/C government had been accused of facilitating this.
Questioned yesterday if the agreements between Baishanlin and government will be laid in the National Assembly given that both the APNU and AFC had been pressing for same when they were in opposition, the Minister of Governance said that since the agreement was inked between the former Minister of Finance and representatives of the company, he would have to speak to current Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan about it.
He agreed that AFC and APNU had called for the various agreements to be tabled but said that it was not in his remit to speak on the agreement.
Though Baishanlin has been here since 2007 and benefited from tax concessions, there is no sign of any progress towards value-added processing.
In April, after numerous reports in the media about its failure to live up to its commitments, Baishanlin said that it had suffered “major setbacks” in completing its long promised wood processing facility and it said that this was due to the lack of adequate funding from its financiers, which it blamed on the “hostile environment” caused by the media.
However, the company has been building ships at its Moblissa site and exporting large quantities of logs. It is also involved in real estate and mining, among other ventures.
The company has continued to export logs.