The Guyana Forestry Commission [GFC] is selling logging concessions to the persons who could pay the highest price. I have been a sawmiller and logger for over 20 years now, this year, 2019, GFC had advertised available logging concessions to be allocated to stakeholders.
I decided to make several applications including two (2) for concessions located next to the Muraballi Reserve, Upper Demerara River. After I had made these applications, I received a call from a person at the GFC informing me to make urgent contact with the Deputy Commissioner, Rawl Lewis.
I was told to appear in person as the matter could not be discussed over the phone. I visited Mr Rawl Lewis, at that time I did not know that this matter was related to my applications for concessions. However, I met him and his first question was “Do you really really need a concession?”. I said yes.
He said “well you know times are hard and we will have to make money,” so I asked him what he meant. He said he would give me 5 days to provide $1 million to him and then the concession would be mine. He also told me that other stakeholders had approached him as well but he would give me “first preference”.
I am a struggling logger with a family to feed so I considered his deal. Three (3) days later I visited Mr Rawl Lewis again, but this time he told me my “foot was too short” and he had received a better deal from the “Hussain” family. Disappointed, I told him there were two concessions next to the Muraballi Reserve, he can give me one and the “Hussain” family one but he told me he already gave both to them.
Over the years, many persons who have invested millions in equipment, have acquired extensive experience and export markets in the logging industry have made applications for new concessions but would not get it because it is given to persons who don’t have any experience in the logging industry, have no export markets or equipments but have paid a hefty bribe for it.
Many of these persons cannot produce and are leading GFC Into financial difficulties but yet it continues. Last year one stakeholder had found some evidence of fraud committed by one of the GFC Deputies and had written a letter to the Commissioner about it. The Commissioner then called the Deputy Commissioner to join him in the presence of that stakeholder and read his letter out loud.
He told the Deputy that this stakeholder had written a letter alleging that you (the Deputy Commissioner) have committed fraud. After that day, that stakeholder was constantly victimised by the Deputy Commissioner to the point where he had no choice but to close his sawmill and logging business.
If anyone wants to investigate this matter all they have to do is compare the applications made by stakeholders and the applications made by the persons who received concessions to see who were the people with the most competitive applications as well as whose applications actually met the requirements needed to get concessions. I am asking you to kindly post this in hopes that something will be done.
I am a struggling logger who is trying to make an honest living and I have had enough.
A concerned logger