It is one thing to feel that commissions, indeed any State owned corporate body, should hand over non-utilized earnings to the Consolidated Fund. It is another thing to argue that by law these bodies are compelled to do so.
I have made it clear where I stand on this issue. Be it NICIL or any other corporation, corporations and commissions are not required to hand over any monies to the Consolidated Fund. I have argued this point ad nauseam in these pages before.
I have dismissed outright the facile arguments made in support of the contention that there is a legal requirement for corporations to hand over their unutilized earnings into the Consolidated Fund. I am therefore not accepting any argument to the contrary. I am supremely confident that my long-held position, vindicated by legal precedent, will be upheld in any Court of law in Guyana.
There is already before our Courts a challenge that will address this issue.
Those who are making the argument about corporate bodies and commissions having required to hand over retained and other earnings to the Consolidated Fund should await the outcome of this case.
Instead of doing this, we continue to be bombarded with the same old argument about monies not being paid into the Consolidated Fund. Let the Courts decide on this dispute and let the chips fall where they must fall.
What also must be decided, but at another level, is what position the country should take on resource extraction. I have seen in the past few weeks a great many criticisms about the exports of logs.
Things have gotten so bad that there are persons arguing that Guyana is going to be denuded of its forests and nothing will be left for our children.
Strangely, I am not hearing the same arguments about our bauxite and our gold which are non renewable resources.
The forests can grow back but bauxite ore and gold cannot. Yet no one is concerned that the Canadians and Americans are going to strip our soils of its gold reserves.
In order to get to our gold, forests have to be cleared also.
But no one is complaining about us not insisting that the bauxite companies operating in Guyana should establish alumna plants or that the gold should be refined in Guyana before it is exported by the large multinational corporations and private miners.
But we are jumping on those who are exploiting our forests simply because certain persons within the manufacturing sector are concerned that they may not be able to source adequate supplies of timber for their operations.
I saw just yesterday a feature on CBS Sunday Morning. It showed a small investor doing very well at making skateboards out of wood.
His business is expanding. I asked myself how come all of these guys in our local manufacturing sector who are up against a Chinese logging firm never saw the potential of using our softwoods to manufacture roller skate boards. How come? This is a lucrative market in America and Europe.
Indeed it now needs to be asked just what wood products we are exporting. There used to be a firm that manufactured durable outdoor furniture.
It reportedly had a good export market. But a few years ago it closed down. Why has no one else taken up that idea? If we feel that there is so much money to be made in adding value to our timber, why is there not much export activity for manufactured wood products?
I have seen also how the argument against logging by Chinese firms has been taken to the extreme. It is now being linked to China’s expansion into Latin America.
Well, I have something to say about this. One of the reasons why Latin American economies, particularly those in South America are doing well is because of trade with China which has increased by more than twelve fold in recent years.
But guess what, trade with the West is still far higher than with China. But what have the Americans done for Latin America.
They have impoverished the region and made it into the most unequal region in the world. Chinese investments are changing all of that.
But it is not just in Latin America but also in the Caribbean that China is spreading its tentacles.
China is going to sink one billion United States dollars into a 647 acre resort in Antigua. Barbados earlier this year entered into a visa waiver treaty with China so as to boost investment and China is helping with the restoration of Sam Lords Castle. China’s tentacles are also in the Caribbean. And it has come bearing gifts!
It is okay to say that the Chinese are here to take out our resources but so too are the Americans, the Canadians and the Russians.
And what are they providing in return? What are the Americans giving us in return? Very little! What are the Canadians giving us? Very little! What are the Russians giving us! Very little! Case closed!
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