Dec 11, 2019 News Comments Off on Union blames GGMC and NICIL for Rusal’s widespread abuse of Guyanese
In recent years, a number of foreign investors have come under severe scrutiny for their operations.
From the abuse of duty free concessions, to the treatment of workers and non-adherence to their investment agreement, the accusations have been tough going as Guyanese started to demand more accountability and returns.
One of the companies that especially came in for flak was BaiShanLin, a Chinese company that had big plans for Guyana. It was granted billions of dollars in concessions, including on equipment and fuel. However, it failed to conform to the investment agreement by building a large processing plant in the Region 10 area.
The Coalition Government in 2015 scrapped the agreement, ending, at least officially, the presence of BaiShanLin in Guyana. It had determined that the investor breached several areas of the agreement.
Another company has also been coming under fire.
The Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI), 90 percent owned by Rusal, the second biggest bauxite company in the world, is facing criticisms.
With over 300 employees in its Region 10 operations at Kurubuka and Aroaima, the company has declared no profits for over decade, since coming here in the mid-2000.
Yet it has been taking out bauxite by the boatloads and receiving fuel concessions by the hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
According to union leader, Lincoln Lewis, the General Secretary of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU), somebody has to take responsibility for not paying enough attention.
He insisted that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) must take blame in not doing enough to ensure Guyana is paid its dividends.
The BCGI/Rusal example has raised alarming questions.
GGMC is supposed to be at the very least monitoring to see the production levels of the company.
At NICIL, that state entity is charged with managing the investment of the state.
The people of Guyana, Lewis pointed out yesterday, own 10 percent of the BCGI.
“Here is the situation. Year after year after year, you are coming to NICIL and saying sorry, no dividends this year. For over a decade that happen. Yet, you found no problems with that. Yet you continue to give them the duty free tax concessions on fuel and equipment. What happened to the people of Guyana you are responsible to?”
According to Lewis, whose union had a running battle with BCGI/Rusal, it is a fact that the main purpose of entities like NICIL and GGMC is to garner revenues and managing their activities to the benefit of the Guyanese people.
“Where in this has the NICIL and GGMC proven that it has done that? A company is here 10 years and operating and nobody is asking how come you are not making a profit yet surviving?”
The disclosures have been making the news in recent years with BCGI/Rusal not worried.
It has not been turning up at meetings with Labour officials and refused to engage the union.
Throughout it all, it has remained silent on the accusations.
Earlier this year, workers blocked the Berbice River after 90 of their colleagues were sacked for demanding better pay and conditions.
In 2009, more than 50 workers were fired for taking strike actions. That matter is unresolved.
Over the weekend, representatives of Bosai Minerals, a Chinese company which has operations in Linden, visited the sites at Kurubuka and Aroaima.
The union and workers have since called for answers. They want to know if BCGI is selling out and whether permission has been granted.
The Guyana Revenue Authority had several weeks ago ordered the BCGI/Rusal officials to halt any attempts to sell its heavy duty trucks and other equipment.
The equipment was brought from the Kurubuka location to Canje, Berbice.
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