“It is now evident why the company avoided Parliamentary scrutiny” – Harmon
“Bai Shan Lin mimics the behaviour of a bacterium called spirogyra. This bacterium gobbles what it wants and keeps splitting and spreading. That is exactly what Bai Shan Lin is doing.”
This comparison was cited by Joseph Harmon, A Partnership for National Unity’s Member on the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources.
Just recently, this publication highlighted an instance when the company had over 20 containers of logs lined up at the John Fernandes Shipping Company on Mandela Avenue. If it continues at this rate, Harmon questioned, “What resources will be left for the next generation?”
He said, “With the rate at which this spirogyra is going, when you get to my age, Bai Shan Lin would have gobbled up everything.”
The politician noted that it is now clearer than ever why the company tried its utmost to avoid parliamentary scrutiny for the past two years.
He said that he is even more certain that the Minister of Natural Resources, Robert Persaud, is aiding and abetting in Bai Shan Lin’s “wanton destruction of Guyana’s forests.”
He continued, “But this is bare face rape of the natural resources of this country and it is something to which I alluded last year…I want to say too that there are certain elements in this country, some of which the Leader of the Opposition, David Granger, calls back seat drivers in this deal.
They have told him to have his shadow ministers exercise a sense of restraint in speaking out over issues like this.
But let it be known that once the laws of the country are breached by foreign or local companies, we will speak about it and we will take action. The level of examination and action to follow will surely arrest this wanton destruction of our forests.”
The Parliamentarian said that since last year, the Natural Resources Sectoral Committee received reports of this sort of abuse in the logging industry but when “we called on the minister, he only gave us a set of excuses.
For two years straight Minister Persaud avoided us. We cannot allow corrupt officials to be entering into agreements which facilitate this kind of destruction.”
Harmon had said that the “excuses” presented to the committee by the Ministry on behalf of the company can only be summed up as disrespect towards the Committee and by extension, the National Assembly. The heart of the excuses he said, was that the company was simply too busy to accommodate the questions of the Committee.
“We wrote to the Minister of Natural Resources informing him that the Committee wanted to visit the work sites and to have a meeting with Bai Shan Lin. That was on June 13, 2013.
The Minister replied on June 17 saying that due to the current work programme of the company coupled with the Minister being scheduled to leave the country on the proposed date, it would not be possible.
“The letter also indicated that they will communicate with us as soon as is convenient on a revised schedule and assist with logistics to ensure a successful field trip. Nothing happened.”
The Parliamentarian said that once again, the Committee wrote to the Natural Resources Minister on May 30, last requesting to visit the Chinese firm in Region Ten.
“The Ministry again wrote saying that it would like to acknowledge the letter but due to the agency’s programme…they are unable to accommodate the request. So what has happened is that for two years running, this company has avoided the oversight of the Natural Resources Committee.
It is in my view a disrespect to the National Assembly that a company as large as this cannot find it necessary to meet with the Committee of the Assembly and so when these companies come to apply for large scale logging we have to view these applications in the light of the level of the disrespect which is shown to the National Assembly.”
Harmon had told Kaieteur News that any company that is requested to appear before the National Assembly must see it as a part of their obligations.
When this publication interviewed Harmon two months ago, he had held firm to the belief that Bai Shan Lin was avoiding parliamentary scrutiny because they have something to hide.
Considering the recent findings of this newspaper’s investigative team, Harmon promised to be unrelenting in his fight to ensure that the company is held accountable for its actions and that those responsible for allowing this abuse to continue be exposed.
“We will not allow him (Persaud) to block us anymore,” Harmon expressed.
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