I am concerned that President Granger may not be receiving adequate briefings over the Chinese transnational logger Baishanlin and the possible replacement Long Jiang Forest Industries Group (also a Chinese state-owned enterprise), with reference to the article ‘Four months on, Harmon’s China trip has produced no results’ (SN, July 25).
Since 2007, Baishanlin has been buying up Guyanese holders of logging concessions and taking over the operational control of those and other concessions, contrary to forest law, as I have pointed out in the independent press since 2007. Clause 13 of Timber Sales Agreements states: “The grantee shall not transfer, sublet, mortgage or otherwise dispose of any interest arising under this agreement except in accordance with the Forest Regulations and any purported disposition made except in accordance with such regulations shall be null and void.” The President of Guyana, as Minister of Forestry, must give prior approval to such transfer (Forest Regulations 1954, Regulation 12). There is no record in the public domain that any of the presidents Jagdeo, Ramotar or Granger have given their prior approval of such transfers of interest.
The takeovers by Baishanlin were therefore illegal, and the partial acquisition of 55 per cent of the shares of Baishanlin by SOE Long Jiang Forest Industries Group was likewise illegal.
In addition to the illegal takeovers, Baishanlin has committed numerous illegalities with the collusion of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), including massive Customs fraud over the export of unprocessed timber logs to China worth hundreds of millions of US dollars, while enjoying tens of millions of tax benefits from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA). Yet Baishanlin is heavily in debt to both the GFC and GRA.
For President Granger to say (if he has been reported correctly) that, “It will disappear as a corporate entity and that will bring an end to any controversy involving Baishanlin as a company. A new entity will take it over and we will have to renegotiate with a new entity”, appears to be an unfortunate misunderstanding of the pillage of Guyana by Baishanlin.
It has been clear for months past that there is no legal reason for delaying action against this illegal enterprise; take out one or more High Court injunctions to stop all its field activities, stop all movements of its vehicles and seize all of its bank accounts. In addition, and through the Chinese Embassy in Georgetown and our Embassy in Beijing, the SOE Long Jiang should be told firmly that it has already broken the law of Guyana and this is an unacceptable start of a FDI arrangement with Guyana.