– No amount of revenue can compensate for the destruction of our forest resources
While the evidence of wanton exploitation of Guyana’s forests has been exposed by this publication, the oversight bodies; The Guyana Forestry Commission and the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, have started a campaign in an effort to repair the damage done to their image and refute the claims.
Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI) via a missive yesterday said that it has been following with keen interest, the various news reports of the apparent exploitation of precious forest resources through the indiscriminate logging and exportation of logs, especially by two overseas companies reportedly enjoying substantial concessions from the Government of Guyana.
However, TIGI said that there are conflicting reports as to whether these companies; Bai Shan Lin and Baitarani, are permitted to conduct logging operations and to export the logs under the terms and conditions of their respective contracts with the Government.
The agency noted that it is also unclear whether the companies’ operations are in conformity with Guyana’s laws, specifically the Guyana Forestry Commission Act and the Environmental Protection Act.
TIGI said that it finds it particularly troubling that both the Ministry of National Resources and the Guyana Forestry Commission have opted to defend the operations of the companies even in the face of damning photographical evidence. TIGI noted too that the defence by the Commission and the Ministry are cushioned with information that appears incomplete and misleading.
In light of all that has been highlighted by various outlets, TIGI believes that it is more than substantial for the Government to make available publicly, the contracts entered into with the two overseas companies.
The anti-corruption agency also stated that the findings of the media and the public outrage, is also more than enough for the Government to place a halt on the operations of the companies until the truth is determined.
It also sought to remind the Government of its obligation under Article 149 (2) of the Constitution which requires the State to “protect the environment, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable and other legislative measures designed to – (a) prevent pollution and ecological degradation; (b) promote conservation; and (c) secure sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development”.
At the same time, TIGI strongly recommended that the Government take urgent measures to provide for an independent investigation to determine whether there has been any violation by the companies or any related entities, of their contractual and statutory obligations. Only after it is determined that there are no such breaches, should the two companies be allowed to continue operations, the agency suggested.
It said too, that recommendations from such an investigation should be applied across the entire sector and lead to a strengthening of the laws and procedures regulating the sector.
TIGI is also of the view that even if these two companies are operating within the confines of their contractual arrangements with the Government, to the extent that such arrangements conflict with national interest, especially as regards the protection of Guyana’s environment and forest resources, the contracts should be rescinded forthwith.
Sep 22, 2018The 2018 Indigenous Heritage Games (IHG) was officially kicked off by Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Sydney Allicock yesterday morning at the at the Everest Cricket Club (ECC) Ground,...
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