Aug 05, 2016 News
The new Board of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) yesterday voted against the continuation of BaiShanLin Forest Development’s operations through its joint ventures. The Board has found these ventures to be illegal.
At present, the joint ventures are the only known logging operations of BaiShanLin, as all other lands previously under the company’s control have been reverted to the State. An end to the company’s joint ventures would mean an end to its present operations in Guyana.
The issue of BaiShanLin’s joint ventures has been boldly highlighted in the report of the forensic audit that Anand Goolsarran conducted into the operations of the GFC.
Goolsarran had noted that BaiShanLin gained control of five major companies in the forestry sector – Sherwood Forrest Inc, Haimorakabra Logging Co., Wood Associated Industries Co. Ltd., Puruni Woods Inc. and Kwebanna Wood Products Inc.
Goolsarran found the ventures to be illegal. He said that the Forests Act prohibits the transfer of ownership/control of a forest concession without the specific approval of the GFC. Goolsarran found no evidence that the specific approval of the GFC was granted in relation to the change of ownership/control of these companies.
He argued that in the circumstances, the holders of the Timber Sales Agreements (TSAs) should have surrendered their authorizations to the Commission for reallocation to other potential concessionaires. In his response, GFC Commissioner James Singh maintained that the ventures were legal. This is a stance that Singh has maintained over the years. He said this since in 2014, when questions were initially raised.
Despite Singh’s stance and his submission to the Board, members found different.
Kaieteur News understands that the findings of forensic audit report were considered and the GFC Board has agreed that all the takeovers by BaiShanLin of Guyanese logging licences were actually illegal, and that the licences should be revoked.
Kaieteur News was not able to get all the detailed consideration of the board in arriving at its decision. But the fact that there was no trace of specific approval for the ventures by the Board is not the only illegality. This was highlighted by Goolsarran, who had told the press, “the argument that BaiShanLin is involved in joint ventures with these logging companies as previously approved by the Commission is not valid, because joint ventures can only be entered into with holders of concessions.”
BaiShanLin was never the holder of a concession. It was the holder of two State Forest Exploratory Permits (SFEPs). The two State Forest Exploratory Permits, which were illegally granted in the first place, are however no longer in the company’s possession.
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