May 19, 2015 News
There is growing anger by local contractors over unfair competition from BaiShanLin, a Chinese company that
has been handed waivers, tax breaks and duty-free concessions by the Jagdeo administration.
Days after truckers complained that BaiShanLin has been taking away their businesses, there are more accusations now.
This time, barge operators who have been fetching sand and logs for local private companies, are accusing BaiShanLin of muscling its way in and hijacking the riverain transportation business.
An operator who has been in business for more than two decades, said that his usual 10 trips a month have been reduced to almost zero.
“I have more than five crewmen and they have families. My payroll is almost $1M monthly. How can we compete against the Chinese when they have been granted so many concessions?
“We pay taxes on everything. I am asking the new President, David Granger, to investigate this. They are offering their service far cheaper than us. They can afford it. We can’t.”
“BaiShanLin gets duty free concession on fuel and on every other thing. So it is impossible for us to compete.”
The operator said that he is aware of at least two quarrying companies that BaiShanLin is doing work for.
While barge operators have taken loans and spent millions of dollars to set up operation, BaiShanLin’s 2,200 tonnes tug barges are proving a major advantage when compared to the smaller ones operated by private operators.
BaiShanLin is a Chinese investor who was under investigation by the last parliamentary Opposition for its logging and mining practices.
Under the Bharrat Jagdeo and Donald Ramotar presidencies, the company was granted billions of dollars in tax breaks and duty free concessions, and was allowed to import scores of trucks and other pieces of heavy equipment.
The company had built at least one barge and was in the process of constructing at least two self-propelled barges at the Linden location.
Reportedly, they have also been granted concessions and licence on fuel imports, giving them a clear edge in not only the logging and mining sectors, but the transportation arena which they have now entered.
BaiShanLin has also reportedly been using its barge to fetch logs of private operators along the Berbice River.
Specifically, the tax breaks and duty free concessions were for them to use in their logging operations.
However, BaiShanLin has also entered the gold mining sector, ship building,
housing and even using trucks to haul logs for private loggers. The latter have been complaining bitterly of the unfair competition, saying that they spent millions of dollars and even took loans to buy their trucks.
The previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government, led by Jagdeo and Ramotar, has been secretive about the details of the investment agreement with BaiShanLin.
After almost a decade in the country, the company has failed to establish wood processing facilities but has rather been concentrating on exporting logs.
It has been blamed for a major spike in wood exports in recent years.
Last year, a flyover of the Berbice River area, saw huge areas of cleared lands with piles of logs as far as the eye can see.
The combined Parliamentary Opposition which won last week’s General Elections, had vowed to review BaiShanLin’s agreement to ensure that Guyana is receiving the best deal.
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