May 03, 2015 News
– blamed Go-Invest in August 2014 for delays, now accusing media
After ten years of mainly extracting logs and benefitting from billions of dollars worth in tax concessions, remissions and tax holidays, Chinese company, BaiShanLin is still to honour its commitment to establish a Wood Processing Plant.
Last year, it blamed the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) for delaying its application for this factory. Now, it is blaming the “hostile” media reports in 2014 for dispiriting financiers.
In a statement last week, the Chinese company said that it is concerned about the apparent “misrepresentations and false reports” being carried by some sections of the media on its operations in Guyana.
It identified Kaieteur News (KN) as the leader of the “hostile” campaign. It claimed that the newspaper had no evidence to support many of its claims.
It cited a recent KN article with the headline: ‘BaiShanLin delays US$70M wood processing factory for gold, housing, logging.’
Quoting the article, “BaiShanLin was “reportedly” approved US$70M to invest in a wood processing plant just off the Linden area. Instead it diverted the money to logging, gold and housing activities.”
BaiShanLin, in its statement, insisted that it is a privately owned company and does not receive capital from the Government of Guyana. Kaieteur News at no time contended in that article or any article for that matter, that BaiShanLin receives funding from the Government of Guyana.
The Chinese company also took offence to the word “reportedly”. It is of the belief that such a word lends more to sensationalism and less towards keeping the public informed. But even in its response to the article, BaiShanLin does not deny that it was approved ‘US$70M’ for certain activities.
With regard to the wood processing plant in the Linden area that was to be constructed, Bai Shan Lin, one of the largest exporters of the country’s prime species of wood, complained that it has indeed suffered major setbacks in completing its wood processing facility that will create hundreds of jobs for Guyanese.
It claimed that these “setbacks” directly relate to lack of adequate funding from its financiers, who, since last year “when these sustained attacks began,” became concerned about the “soundness of investing further in what appeared to be a hostile environment.”
It would contradict what the company said in August last year when local media reported on the extent of BaiShanLin’s operations in Guyana.
Back then, the company failed to mention in its published advertisements that “financiers” were scared to invest. Instead, back then BaiShanLin sought to throw the blame on GO-Invest for the delays.
In one of its ads, the company stated that in 2008, it applied to the “Government of Guyana through the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) and other agencies to lease lands to set up a factory to process logs and engage in value-added production, such as the making of furniture, craft and hardwood flooring.”
It had said then that it was experiencing delays.
Kaieteur News later reported that GO-Invest had had no such application. BaiShanLin had nothing to say when this was revealed.
This caused many, including the opposition, to challenge the government to make public the investment agreement it signed on to with the Chinese logging company. To date, this is yet to be done.
Further, on the note of logging, BaiShanLin said that as it relates to operations, it has consistently remained well within the law/regulations governing the forestry sector.
It has been reported on extensively, by insiders and other well-informed critics, including Dr. Janette Bulkan, a forestry specialist, that BaiShanLin practices landlordism.
The Timber Sales Agreement (TSAs) which governs logging does not allow that.
BaiShanLin also sought to justify its great access to the mining sector. The regulations stipulate that only Guyanese can participate in auctions and bid for mining lands. It said that the company’s owner in Guyana, Mr. Chu Hongbo is a naturalized Guyanese and that he is entitled to benefit from that clause.He did not say whether all the statutory requirements for naturalisation were met.
BaiShanLin failed to point out that it has been granted hundreds of millions of dollars in duty free concessions and other breaks and therefore has an unfair advantage when it comes to competing with local operators.
Last year, Bai Shan Lin’s operations came under scrutiny after it became known that the company has been able to acquire several hundred thousand hectares of state lands for logging and mining. This was before Hongbo became a citizen of Guyana.
In fact, it has become the third largest holder of state forests in the country. An advertisement in this paper earlier this week shows the over-reach and dominance of Bai Shan Lin across Guyana.
The company is being blamed for a significant increase of log exports although Government says that those increases are still within the allowable figures.
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