Decision on renewal of Barama agreement due in weeks – ministry

A decision on the renewal of Barama Company Limited’s (BCL) Investment Development Agreement is expected to be made in a few weeks.

“The process of renewing Barama’s agreement with Government has not been concluded and we prefer not to comment on specifics; except to say that we intend to conclude everything within a few weeks and government welcomes the opportunity to continue its relationship with Barama,” the Ministry of Natural Resources said in a brief statement to Stabroek News following a query about the discussions.

Stabroek News had reported earlier this year that teams representing the Government of Guyana and BCL have held discussions on the company’s request for a renewal of its Investment Development Agreement, which will expire in October.

In September 2015, then Minister of Governance and now Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman visited the company’s Buck Hall operations to get a first-hand look at the operations and working conditions there. He had said that the Government would like to see more value-added production from investors in Guyana and he would make certain that this component is included in any agreement.

He had said that the agreement will be renewed but the agreement has to be renegotiated to make it stronger.

During that tour in September, General Manager of the company, Mohindra Chand had said that Barama has been one of the longstanding foreign companies in Guyana and while the challenges were many, it had never considered stopping operations here. Noting that more than $43 billion has been invested into its Guyana operations, he said that he expected Barama to grow and for further development to take place once the agreement is renewed. Barama has been operating in Guyana since 1991.

Barama has control of 1,611,195 hectares (3,981,349 acres) of forest in the northwest. Over the period that it has been here, questions have been raised about whether there has been sufficient value-adding compared to the export of logs. Plywood, which was meant to be a major product, accounts for only a small amount of exports from the country. When it signed its deal in 1991, BCL was also accorded broad tax concessions. The principals of the company are Malaysians.

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