Bai Shan Lin grinds to a halt, Region 10’s small loggers have no buyer

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 July 2016, 17:33 by Denis Chabrol

The operations of the Chinese logging company, Bai Sha Lin, have ground to halt and the livelihoods of numerous Guyanese who sold logs to that company have been disrupted, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman said Wednesday.

“The company’s operations are at a standstill right now,” he said.

Briefing the bipartisan parliamentary committee on natural resources, he said Bai Shan Lin has ceased operations because government has restricted the company’s export of crabwood logs due to complaints of shortages by local furniture manufacturers, poor demand in Asia, and internal company administrative issues.

Trotman said now that the company’s operations have “come to a halt,” government hoped that buyers could be found for logs already harvest by small loggers in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice). “I can tell you that as I go into Region 10 in particular the small loggers are crying out because they have logs cut and there is no one to buy their logs so every action has a reaction and an effect,” he said.

One of the options being explored, he said, is for the Guyana Forestry Commission to “bring in as man logs as possible and maybe hold an auction on the international market to see what we can sell.” “We may not be able to recover all costs but I believe that we owe it to the people who have cut… that we can do something to alleviate some of their losses.”

Bai Shan Lin had been repeatedly assailed by the APNU+AFC coalition in and out of government about its repeated failures to meet its contractual obligations to get into value-added production rather than export raw logs and to construct several upscale residential houses at Providence, East Bank Demerara.

Government is awaiting the arrival of officials of a larger Chinese company that has expressed an interest in taking over Bai Shan Lin.

Trotman said government would not be lectured to, but would determine what is in Guyana’s best interest. He said if the new investor is keen on taking over Bai Shan Lin, they must know that the rules would include respect for Guyana’s laws, its people, ensure environmental sustainability and the contracts that would be honoured. “If we have commitments that these will be honoured, then we are prepared to entertain them,” he said.

Latest figures show that 166,000 cubic meters of timber have been produced from January to June, 2016 compared to 195,000 cubic meters for the same period last year. The value of total exports up to June 2016 is US$20.19 million, and US$587 million has been already earned for the year. The projected revenue for 2016 is US$807 million.

Commissioner of Forests, James Singh told the natural resources committee that 6,146,696 of the 12,594,000 hectares of State Forest Estate have been allocated for various purposes.