GFC’s revenue collection increased to $90M monthly in 2021
– 100 new concessions issued to small loggers
The first full year under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic Government has seen Guyana’s forestry sector increasing its monthly revenues by approximately $20 million when compared to management under the previous Administration.
According to a report from the Department of Public Information (DPI), the forestry sector made a turnaround in 2021. This resulted in the monthly revenue collection of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) being increased from $70 million in 2019 to over $90 million in 2021.
When the PPP/C Government took office in August 2020, it inherited a grossly mismanaged forestry sector that was on the verge of collapse with no money to pay staff nor its utility expenses.
In its Emergency Budget for that year, the new Government channelled $350 million into the Forestry Commission to cover operational costs and wages for staff for the remainder of 2020.
During the presentation of the 2020 Budget, it was reported that the forestry sector was contracted by an estimated 8.1 per cent that year. Around that time, Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat had disclosed that Guyana only produced about 35 per cent of its permitted logging quota. He had underscored the need for Guyana to not only increase production but also move towards value-added products.
Nevertheless, the Natural Resources Minister had held meetings with staff and other stakeholders to look at strategies that could boost the financial performance and management capabilities of the GFC.
With these and other interventions including the removal of Valued-Added Tax (VAT) on exports as well as on machinery and equipment, the forestry sector was able to make a positive turnover and manage on its own by the end of 2021.
In fact, one of the sector’s achievements last year was getting stakeholders, particularly small-scale loggers, back into the business. As such, over 100 new concessions were issued to small loggers.
This move resulted in the construction boom, and an increase in log production, with over 400,000 cubic feet declared by the end of 2021.
However, the performance of large-scale loggers was not so positive. To this end, Minister Bharrat has stated that his Ministry intends to hold more consultations with the larger companies in order for them to reach their targets.
“Their production was very low when compared to the small loggers. This is an area we will address in 2022. We can’t have people holding up State land. There is so much room for increased production. That is not a question that stakeholders should be worried about,” the Minister was quoted as saying in the DPI article.
Additionally, monitoring capabilities were advanced with the procurement of more off-terrain vehicles to venture into the hinterland for exercises.
Meanwhile, roads crucial to the development of the forestry sector were rehabilitated and new hinterland roads were constructed in Regions One (Barima-Waini), Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) to the tune of over $3 billion.
This year, operations in the forestry sector are expected to be even better with the construction boom in the country at an all-time high as the Government’s development agenda takes off.
With more than 90 per cent of the country’s forest cover intact and storing over 20 gigatons of carbon, the PPP/C Government will be looking to implement its revised Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which includes plans to use Guyana’s vast forests to earn revenues to develop the country.
Last year, President Dr Irfaan Ali announced that a letter of intent was signed with a US-based non-profit organisation (NGO), Emergent Finance Accelerated Inc, to market Guyana’s carbon credit through a credit contract. President Ali had said this arrangement has the potential of earning the country millions of US dollars annually.
Previously, Guyana had earned more than US$200 million for preserving its forests to store carbon in a deal with Norway.
Guyana’s total forest cover of some 18.4 million hectares holds carbon in a high density of up to 350 tons/hectare. This amounts to approximately 6638 tons/person, which is the second-highest forest carbon stock per capita of any country on earth.