The Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) says the decision by the government to have all pinewood importers licensed is a step in the right direction, but there is still a need for more enforcement on the importation of all types of logs.
Speaking to Stabroek News recently, Mohindra Chand, Chairman of the GMSA Forestry & Wood Sector Sub-Committee, said that the move is a step in the right direction since it is on the basis of pursuing timber legality under the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) EU-Guyana programme.
“…And we are expected to be able to give an account for all timber products that is found on the domestic market and possibly being re-exported to other markets outside of Guyana. The decision primarily is to be able to give account for the inflow and outflow of timber. What we have is very stringent systems in place for the outflow but the inflow has not traditionally been regulated,” he said, while adding that when timber is exported from Guyana to other countries they are put through similar procurement requirements, which shows that Guyana is “essentially catching up with the world.”
When questioned on how the move will affect the industry, Chand explained that the association has not heard of anything else which will be burdensome on the importers and it will just be a matter of being registered to import the pinewood logs.
He further stated that it is the direction which should be taken for all species of timber that are being imported into the country.
“It should be for all timber products and should extend beyond pine lumber. Guyana can put systems in place to monitor the flows of timber in forest, sawmills, manufactures and so on. We have regulations for that, but when you have timber coming in from outside and potentially mixing with ours, and we have to re-export it and those countries already have in place due diligence to verify that the timber we are putting in our furniture came from legal sources and have met certain standards,” Chand explained, while pointing out that the move is, “addressing the grey area.”
In addition to supporting the move, Chand also pointed out that they are still lobbying for the implemented 14% tax on value added products to be reduced or rescinded completely.
The government had announced earlier in the month that all importers of timber products who focus on the importation of pinewood logs will be required to obtain an import permit from the Guyana Forestry Commission.
The move by the government comes after the GMSA and the Forest Products Association of Guyana had made calls for the 14% VAT on forest products to be withdrawn.
The groups had explained that the importation of pinewood was creating an unfair environment in the logging market since persons were being able to import the logs and sell them in the local market at a cheaper price.
An official from the GMSA had emphasized that the 14% VAT would put the “already ailing” sector at a major disadvantage, especially when the local products are compared to the imported ones.