Jul 29, 2017 News
BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc. currently owes the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) millions of dollars in rental fees for two plots of land in Region Ten.
Those lands were leased to the company with the understanding that it would have used it to develop a state-of-the-art wood processing facility. After 10 years, this never materialized.
This is according to NICIL’s Head, Horace James.
In an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News yesterday, James explained that the company owes $25M in rental fees for two properties; one in Kumaka and another in Conception.
James said, “We had meetings with them since last year and they were to pay off but up to now they haven’t. They received lawyer’s letter since December 2016 to remove and they are still there.”
BaiShanLin is the very company that Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, had said, mimics the behaviour of a bacterium called spirogyra. He had said during the 2015 election season that this “bacterium” gobbles what it wants and keeps splitting and spreading. That is exactly what BaiShanLin was doing.
He had said, “With the rate at which this spirogyra (BaiShanLin) was going, when you get to my age, BaiShanLin would have gobbled up everything… But let it be known that once the laws of the country are breached by foreign or local companies, we will speak about it and we will take action.
“The level of examination and action to follow will surly arrest this wanton destruction of our forests.”
Bai Shan Lin had given conflicting reasons in the past to justify the delay of establishing this wood-processing facility. In fact, officials at the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) had revealed that the company was going through some “financial difficulties.”
GFC officials maintained that BaiShanLin promised that once the “financial difficulties” were over, it will also submit the revised programme on the facility to the Commission. But this too did not occur.
Presidential Advisor on Sustainable Development, Dr. Clive Thomas, had said that the behaviour of the logging companies such as BaiShanLin that have benefitted significantly from Guyana’s forest resources, is absolutely “unacceptable”.
“Guyana cannot continue to be giving out hundreds of millions of dollars worth in these tax breaks or concessions and we aren’t benefitting from value added operations.
“If companies make a commitment to do so then the ethical thing to do is to deliver what was promised. If not, their concessions should be taken away,” the economist had said.
He continued, “This is obviously not part of how one promotes the suitability of an economy and an industry. We cannot continue to go this route. Allowing this sort of behaviour to continue sends a dangerous message to other potential investors and local companies. What has the Guyana Forestry Commission done regarding such infractions? Is this not important?
“We really need to change the landscape of the way business is done in the logging industry and eliminate this kind of slackness we allow these companies to get away with. This is not about whether you are foreign or not. At the end of the day it is what is right for the development of the country.”
In 2014, BaiShan Lin blamed the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) for delaying its application for its wood processing factory. In one of its advertisements, 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 then opposition, to challenge the previous government to make public the investment agreement it signed onto with the Chinese logging company. This was never done.
Amidst harsh criticisms of its operations during 2014, BaiShanLin insisted that it has consistently remained well within the law/regulations governing the forestry sector.
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