“The government is silent about this immoral and abusive act and there can only be one logical conclusion for that—they are benefitting financially in exchange for allowing the rape to continue. Citizens need to understand the corrupt beast that it (Govt.) is dealing with. It is only a win-win deal for the parties involved and Bai Shan Lin’s kickbacks seem to have silenced the government.”
This is the contention of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) member on the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources, Joseph Harmon.
After seeing the aerial view pictures of huge piles of hundreds of Guyana’s precious logs stocked and waiting to be shipped from one of Bai Shan Lin’s Kwakwani areas, Harmon believes that the evidence showcased by Kaieteur News yesterday is simply “horrendous.”
“It is sickening to come to grips with the reality that former President Bharrat Jagdeo invited Bai Shan Lin to this country under the pretext that it was going to foster good developments, and all along the true intention was to rape this country of its resources. This underscores the need for the Ramotar administration to resign en bloc.
“They have no interest in protecting the people. They have fooled this country. It seems that this Government is being paid to shut its mouth.”
The MP pointed out that at a meeting of the Natural Resources Committee in the Parliament Office, Head of the Guyana Forestry Commission, James Singh, was requested to provide information in relation to the contractual arrangements that Government has with Bai Shan Lin, a Chinese company that has been in the spotlight for several months now, for its questionable activities.
Singh, according to Harmon, said that the Commission does not have a copy of the contract.
The Parliamentary Committee was referred to the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) for more information. But when contacted, GO-Invest was not even aware of the agreements.
“This is a most serious matter, because we have a Government that is so greedy and selfish that it is incapable of understanding that it has the responsibilities to protect the natural resources of this country.”
Commissioner Singh had defended GFC saying that Bai Shan Lin is not operating in an illegal manner, but Harmon contends that he does not trust what the nation is being told about what is legal and what isn’t in this matter.
“These companies are just being encouraged to gut this country, and indicators show that Guyana is slipping further into the abyss of poverty.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had made it clear that Bai Shan Lin does not have permission to cut or log. In fact, EPA denied ever giving the Chinese company any permission to do logging. A senior official at the EPA explained it is currently in discussions with the company in relation to “scoping”.
“Scoping” is another aspect of its Environmental Assessment which Bai Shan Lin needs to complete.
This publication understands that once everything is done in accordance with the prescribed requirements, the EPA would grant Bai Shan Lin an “Environmental Authorization Permit.” This would give the company the right to log and harvest timber.
Though it is currently without a logging licence, Bai Shan Lin has teamed up with four others in joint ventures to export billions of dollars in logs.
It is in possession of a State Forest Exploration Permit (SFEP) which allows for an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, not large-scale logging. A Forestry official said that at present, the company should only be engaging in limited exploration logging.
In June, Bai Shan Lin submitted an application to the EPA seeking environmental authorization to undertake a large-scale logging and sawmill operation for several areas, including on the left bank of the Essequibo River, along the Berbice River and in Regions Nine and Six. That application is still pending.
The Environmental Protections Act of 1996 says that an “Environmental Impact Assessment” is required before any decision is taken to approve or reject a project of this magnitude. EPA had invited members of the public to submit, within 28 days of the notice, questions or objections. It is not clear whether this process is completed.
Bai Shan Lin has claimed access to forestry concessions that amount to close to one million hectares of rainforest, from which it plans to extract logs and ship them out of Guyana. However, Government has denied it was that much.
The company estimates that it will make US$1,800 from each hectare of land, giving it profits totaling US$1.7 billion, according to redd-monitor.org.
Additionally, the company sought permission to dig up a 20-kilometre stretch of river to look for gold. Other plans include setting up what it is called a Guyana-China Timber Industry Economic and Trading Corporation Park, plus a 400-acre real estate development.
The plans were announced in 2012 by Chu Wenze, Chairman of Bai Shan Lin, at the Second World Congress on Timber and Wood Products Trade in Taicang, China.
Those plans were announced even before Guyana knew of it. The country became aware of what was happening only when Bai Shan Lin officials visited Guyana and held discussions with President Donald Ramotar and other government officials.
Redd-monitor.org stated that in November 2012, Chu Wenze’s plans have threatened Guyana’s proposals to reduce deforestation and forest degradation.
Bai Shan Lin is part of a group of 11 companies operating in Guyana. They are all part of the China Forest Industry Group (Hong Kong).
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