Ministry defends plan for timber stockyard

The Ministry of Natural Resources has defended plans for a public-private partnership for a timber stockyard.

In statement on Wednes-day in response to criticism of the plan, the Ministry said that the Government had conceptualised the creation of a dimension stockyard through a Private Public Partnership that would assure a reliable supply of quality timber products to the domestic and export market without competing directly with the private sector.

The ministry said that it is important to note that it was the private sector that proposed this facility as an initiative to improve growth in the sector. Last year, the release said that the Minister of Finance took the initiative of meeting the forestry sector representatives in conjunction with the Ministry of Natural Resources to  better understand the challenges and to find ways of stimulating growth within the sector. Technical input was provided by the Guy-ana Manufacturing and Services Association and the Guyana Forestry Com-mission.

The ministry statement said that the stakeholders agreed on a menu of measures which included – a reduction of the VAT on lumber, the undertaking of a vitally needed National Forest Inventory and the establishment of a Dimension Stockyard.

The statement said that the government for this purpose allocated  $50 million in Budget 2018, as an indication of its preparedness to partner with the private sector for the stockyard.

“It was observed that for some time now it was difficult to obtain quality raw materials (lumber) in sufficient quantity and dimensions. The Consolidated or Dimension Stockyard is intended to bridge this gap of obtaining an improved quality of lumber, in sufficient quantity and a reliability of supply. It is believed that the quality of locally produced lumber is not at the level to make it very competitive both locally and internationally as only a few operators are producing lumber at the desired quality level”, the statement said.

The Guyana Forestry Commission had announc-ed at a recent press conference that the facility will be managed by an oversight body and will work with the operators so that orders can be consolidated to meet a particular demand or market.

“The facility will in no way compete with the private sector as there will be no price disadvantage or compulsory requirements from the private sector,” the GFC said at their press conference recently, according to the statement from the ministry.

The sum allocated in the budget for the stockyard will be used to set up the regulatory framework of the facility, the governance and administrative structure, conduct site preparation activities inclusive of minimal capital equipment and marketing efforts.

“We assure the people of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana that the Minis-try of Natural Resources stands by this project which has the potential to raise standards in the forestry sector and secure markets. It is an important project for the forestry sector which has had mixed fortunes due to a number of factors and therefore we ask that the public not be misled by those who claim to have the interest of the country at heart but whose words and actions demonstrate the opposite. We assure that every aspect of this project will be executed under the strictest standards of transparency and accountability”, the statement added.

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