Callous policies implemented by the forestry sector

Dear Editor,
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic has been relentless in its condemnation of the ill-advised, improperly conceived and callously implemented policies in the forestry sector which have practically destroyed the once vibrant communities of Region 10. In the lead up to 2015, these communities were visited by the likes of Trotman et al with big promises of how they would do better and how they would create more jobs and ensure that residents make more money. The promise of the good life. There were also talks of investors who were lined up specifically for Region 10 and then by extension, the entire country.
However, reality has stepped in. The Leader of the Opposition on numerous occasions at his weekly press conferences has highlighted the plight of the hapless and helpless citizens.
While steam was escaping from the pressure pot, on October 21, 2019, the pot boiled over and the loggers in Ituni had no choice but to take the posture of a protest and practically beg for an opportunity to be able to work. This appeal went to the tone-deaf and unconstitutional President. A notable fact that was disclosed during that protestation was that 35 tags for 2019 were given to the community of Ituni, a community of more than 800 residents (for the layman a tag is the permission to cut a single tree). In essence, the community of 800 is expected to live on the proceeds of cutting 35 trees for the entire year.
During various visits to communities in Region 10, namely, Hururu, Kwakwani, Ituni, Muratario, Malali, 47 Miles, 58 Miles, and Great Falls, I have realised that the cry is exactly the same: hardships, imposition of regulations, forcing community logging associations to be morphed into co-operative societies, withholding of tags to ensure political compliance, and a host of other discriminatory practices . The people are fed-up, disgusted and impoverished. A case in point of betrayal was the constant attacks on the Chinese investors in this sector by the APNU/AFC while in Opposition and the promises of how better will come and that the good life would be enjoyed by all. This sordid episode of people begging lays squarely at the feet of Mr David Granger. So we can expect Mr Trotman or a full convoy of Ministers rushing in to these areas with a new set of promises while the people are disillusioned and the suffering continues.
We in the PPP/C empathise with the hardships being experienced by the residents and pledge to ensure a professionally managed Guyana Forestry Commission guided by sound economic policies. This Commission under the PPP/C will serve to alleviate the woes of residents as a matter of great urgency. As is publicly known, we will reverse the VAT on heavy-duty equipment used in the forestry, mining and agricultural sectors. We will initiate policies to ensure all those who depend on the forest for a living can benefit while fulfilling our commitments of sustainable development.
We remind that our flagship Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which earned Guyana US$250 million in the first instance did not deprive our loggers, miners nor our Amerindian brothers and sisters from making a living.
A visionary and efficiently run PPP/C Administration in 2020 will revive traditional sectors and stimulate growth in new and emerging sectors. We need all of our people back to work!
The horse cannot be left to starve while the grass grows in abundance. “Long time done short time leff”.

Yours sincerely,
Bishop Juan A Edghill
PPP/C Member of