GFC scraps Baishan Lin’s forest concessions; moves to recover debts

Last Updated on Wednesday, 7 September 2016, 17:27 by Denis Chabrol

Now that all of Bai Shan Lin’s concessions have been repossessed by the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), that regulatory agency is about to sell already harvested logs to help recover some of the debts owed by that company that claims it has registered a loss for more than 20 years.

The total size of the concessions is 680,000 hectares including joint ventures.

“We have materials on the ground and we will work to get them purchased. That is not only to recover but to stop them from rotting,” Chairman of the GFC’s Board of Directors, Jocelyn Dow told Demerara Waves Online News.

She confirmed that the decision to take back the forest concessions following Baishan Lin International Forest Development Inc. (BIFDI) failure to keep several commitments to submit information about its operations in Guyana, settle its GYD$80 million arrears and submit a letter of commitment from the new partner.

“To date, the BIFDI has failed to fulfill any of its commitments to the Government of Guyana; effectively failing on the obligations it made, which were accepted in good faith. In keeping with Forest Governance Practices, the GFC will be formally repossessing the concessions owned by the company and accelerating efforts to recover the debt owed,” GFC said in a statement

Dow explained that debts are owed to the GFC and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), and that that tax collection agency has a lien on all of the equipment while the concessions and logs are under GFC’s control.

She said after having a “very free hand” and given concessions along with linkages back in China, questions must be raised about why that Bai Shan Lin has not been making a profit.

The regulatory agency is expected to assemble a team of experts to secure the “best possible advice”  to conduct a value-chain analysis at a time when Guyana is being paid for retaining standing forests to absorb greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the impact of climate change.

She said this move against Bai Shin Lin gives the regulatory agency an opportunity to return to the drawing board and focus on value-added, increased employment and marketing of diverse and specialized timbers. “It seems to me that Guyana and Guyanese should be afforded an opportunity to think on this a bit and, of course, we have the advantage for the first time of being paid for standing trees so we don’t have to hurry, in my view. What we have to hurry about is to get jobs,”  said Dow.

Dow assured that the GFC has “not been in any anti-Chinese mode” and as far as the GFC was concerned it was dealing with a Guyana-registered company and has no evidence that the entity is partly owned by the government of China.

BIFDI was incorporated in September 2006 under the Guyana Companies Act 1991 with the main objective of timber harvesting and establishing downstream wood processing operations in Linden.

During the meeting in April, representatives noted that the BIFDI had suffered financial constraints which affected the establishing of the wood processing facility and that the company was engaging Long Jiang Forest Industries Group (LJFIG) that would contribute significantly to their investment in Guyana.

The GFC Board was assured of the financial strength of the new partner who had committed to pay off the debt owed by the company to GFC, but according to Dow, the board has not heard anything about LJFIG.