May 27, 2016 News
By Abena Rockcliffe- Campbell
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government granted a host of concessions to a company
that did no good for Guyana—BaiShanLin.
The logging company was allowed to spread its tentacles reaching into most, if not all, of Guyana’s business sectors.
While BaiShanLin was busy having its way, exploiting Guyana and the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) was busy doing nothing about it, other companies that possibly had genuine intentions for business in Guyana—of mutual benefit—might have been deterred by BaiShanLin’s grip on Guyana.
That possibility was highlighted by former Auditor General and anti-corruption advocate, Anand Goolsarran. He recently spoke to Kaieteur News about various aspects of unfair play that Guyana endured with BaiShanLin.
This newspaper had presented the facts to prove that BaiShanLin’s profits go to China and stay there.
Goolsarran recently zeroed in on that fact, as he referenced the “ridiculous” agreements that the PPP/C signed with BaiShanLin.
Some of these agreements were also made public in this newspaper, and highlighted the magnitude of concessions requested by BaiShanLin and granted by the PPP/C government.
These were extreme when matched against the proposed projects, or any project for that matter.
Among the concessions sought by BaiShanLin were requests for one billion tons of cement, one for 300-plus
trucks, and another for two billion pails of paint. The waivers on the cement and paint alone would amount to just about US$60B in lost taxes, a sum equivalent to 40 years of Guyana’s national budget.
The former Auditor General said that BaiShanLin’s presence in Guyana and the concessions it was granted, “would have likely crowded out other potential investors who may be genuinely committed to the economic activities agreed upon with the Government.”
“Let us say that another logging company wanted to come to Guyana, where would that company have operated?”
Goolsarran explained that different parts of the forest have different species of wood. He explained, “Parts (of the forest) that have quality species like Greenheart, Wamara and Purple Heart would have already been given out.” Indeed, BaiShanLin, through its joint ventures, is in control of over 627,000 hectares of Guyana’s forest.
Goolsarran acknowledged the fact that Guyana is badly in need of foreign investments for economic growth and social development.
He said, however, that the choice of BaiShanLin “was not a good one, and the investor was not properly screened.”
Goolsarran’s comments are eye-opening when matched against what the country learned from the Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman earlier this year.
Trotman said that the PPP/C government distributed all of Guyana’s productive forest, and that there is
literally nothing left. He told the National Assembly that there has to be a revision of National Forest Policy as there have been many changes since the existing policy was crafted.
To give reason about the importance of the change, Trotman told the House that much to the “horror” of the new administration upon the assumption of office, “we were met with an alarming situation where we discovered that 100% or all of our productive forest was allocated by the past Government.”
Trotman added, “This is what a former head of state would have referred to as ‘confounded nonsense”.
The Minister questioned, “How could a responsible government preside over the allocation of all, not some, but all of its productive forest?”
He said that this must have been done without any regard for future generations.
“Understandably, in the national interest we will have to do something about it.”
Nothing has been done thus far.
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