Sep 24, 2020 Letters
The staff of the Guyana Forestry Commission would like to place on record their heartfelt appreciation to the Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Vickram Bharrat for making almost immediate representation to the President, His Excellency, Dr. Mohammed I. Ali to ensure staff are paid in a timely manner.
Editor, hundreds of staff over the past four years have not been paid on time as regular public servants due to poor management decisions made by the previous administration, which bankrupted the once thriving forest sector. This was not the only reason, but the entire economy of the country was mismanaged, there was no significant infrastructure works, no new housing scheme and disincentives to major forest sector players in the sector resulted in their withdrawal. In the end, the Commission and stakeholders such as sawmillers and small loggers perished alike due to the lack of investment and circulation of finance within the forest sector.
In going forward, the Commission has benefitted from temporary financial support from the Government which has allowed for the timely payment of backlog (two months) and current salaries to staff. Simultaneously with the operation of a turnaround plan to make the Commission and sector profitable once again. This is being stimulated by the Budget 2020 measures as announced by Minister Bharrat and the government to realign not only the forest sector but all productive sectors. Specific initiatives that will directly impact the forest sector include tax concessions on all-terrain vehicles, removal of VAT on all exports and removal VAT on hinterland travel; all of which will benefit the forestry sector. Equally important is the amendment to the Log Export Policy which will allow sawmillers to export logs, thus resulting in a significant boost to industry production and creating employment for small loggers.
Therefore, all staff and sector stakeholders are appreciative of the support from the current government, particularly our down to earth Minister of Natural Resources who has been meeting with GFC’s management team regularly, small loggers and major industry stakeholders alike to build team support for a robust and profitable forest sector. We welcome this new governance style which is based on consultations and inclusivity for the development of the forest sector and all of Guyana.
GFC Staff (Name and contact provided)
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