Jul 13, 2016 News
Recently, government indicated that it is still willing to continue facilitating BaiShanLin’s business operations in Guyana. In fact, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman indicated that the government remains in discussions with the company about the way forward. In this regard, he spoke about a new company that may be coming to take over BaiShanLin.
The fact that government continues to facilitate a controversial company—even before the company corrects the wrongs it committed—is a source of severe discomfort for anti-corruption advocates like Dr. David Hinds.
During an interview with Kaieteur News on Tuesday, Dr. Hinds said that given BaiShanLin’s “not so sterling track record in Guyana, one has to be somewhat concerned when the government is thinking about continuing to do business with that company.”
Dr. Hinds recalled that BaiShanLin has failed to honour its obligations to Guyana even though it was given so many chances by the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) government to do so.
The anti-corruption advocate said that BaiShanLin’s behaviour should not attract a reward of favoured status in going forward.
“We have to desist from groveling in the face of these big companies,” said Dr. Hinds.
He added that the politicians must seek to find the middle ground and balance its urge to attract investments, making sure that they do not compromise the integrity of Guyana in the process of looking for business.
Dr. Hinds said that if the controversial company is allowed to continue as if it did nothing wrong, “we would be sending the wrong message to other investors.”
That message would be that Guyana “is a place where anything goes…basically a free for all.”
Dr. Hinds said that if the APNU+AFC government is serious about ridding Guyana of certain ailments that prevailed under the PPP/C, it would not engage BaiShanLin or allow the company to do business until the company honours its financial obligations. In this regard, the political analyst was talking about the large amount of money that BaiShanLin has outstanding for the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Further, Dr. Hinds said that the government should seek to recover those concessions sold to BaiShanLin by other logging companies. Hinds noted that this was done in blatant violation of the laws of Guyana.
He said that the recommendations of the forensic audit into the operations of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) should be heeded with urgency.
Dr. Hinds sought to make it clear that he was not suggesting in any way that government must permanently cut ties with BaiShanLin. He said that if the company chooses to pull up its proverbial socks and show respect for the laws and people of Guyana, government can then seek to move forward with the company—but not before.
“If we must then do business with a reformed BaiShanLin, there must be a grace period, after which there must be strict conditions which demand respect for our laws. BaiShanLin or any new owner must face a cooling out period,” said Dr. Hinds.
The company scheduled to take over BaiShanLin is said to be Long Jiang Forest Industries Group.
When he was detailing his trip to China, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said that on March 27, 2016, arrangements were made for him to visit Long Jiang Forest Industries Group, a Company situated in Heilong Jiang Province. The Long Jiang Forest Industries Group is a state-owned company that had acquired 55 percent of the shares in BaiShanLin. Harmon said that the company intends to fully take over BaiShanLin in 2016.
The Minister of State also announced that the Vice Director of the Company, Mr. Wong Dong Xu, assured that the Company’s officials would be in Guyana by May 2016 to complete due diligence for the takeover, and to satisfy and expand on the obligations of BaiShanLin to Guyana.
The media has heard nothing about this due diligence since.
Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman said that the government has told BaiShanLin that it is fully prepared to meet and have discussions with the investor, “so we await a feedback.”
Trotman said that the APNU+AFC government wants it to be made clear that it is not against business. “We just want business done right; we are not going to say no to a credible company taking over another company or investing in Guyana.”
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