Majority of new logging concessions went to small loggers – Bharrat

…more concessions to be advertised in coming weeks

The forestry sector continues to grow as new loggers enter the market. So much so that since the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s return to office, over 100 new logging concessions have been allocated – mostly to small loggers. Moreover, a further 20 to 30 new concessions will be advertised in the coming weeks.
Making this revelation was Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat, during Tuesday’s launch of the $900 million Forestry Revolving Fund. According to the Minister, the majority of the over 100 new logging concessions were to small loggers.
“To date, we have already allocated over 100 new concessions. Over 100 new concessions, mostly to small loggers. And in another week or so, we’ll be advertising maybe another 20 or 30 new concessions, so that more stakeholders wanting to come into the forestry sector can also benefit. And now, with our partnership with Demerara Bank, access to financing is available,” the Minister said, referring to the Revolving Fund.
Bharrat spoke of some of the challenges that have been surmounted, and opportunities that include increased access to financing. This will especially benefit small loggers, whom the Minister noted have often struggled with the financial aspect of logging.
“We know we’ve been experiencing a construction boom in Guyana. And we know that the increase for materials has gone triple-fold, maybe more in some instances. And it has put a lot of pressure on us, not only in the forestry sector, but also in the mining sector”, he said.
“The more we increase our production of aggregates, the more the demand go up. The more we increase our production of wood products, the more the demand goes up. So, it is a good time that we are joining forces with Demerara Bank,” Bharrat further said.
The forestry sector has come a long way from just a few years ago. After taking office in 2020, Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister Gail Teixeira had confirmed that the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) was in a state of bankruptcy.
The Minister had related that when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had demitted office in 2015, the Commission had over $4 billion in its coffers. But when they took office in 2020, the agency did not even have sufficient funds to pay salaries. This was topped with high debts.
During Minister Bharrat’s first engagement at the Ministry in August, he was informed that the Commission was unable to pay salaries for July to its staff, and more so, millions of dollars were owed to utility companies. In response, Bharrat had suggested major restructuring at the various agencies, to ensure that they function in a more effective manner.
Back in August 2020, the Irfaan Ali-led Government had also approved $350 million to support the GFC after it was left bankrupt by the APNU/AFC. At that time, the Government had stated that the money was to pay salaries to staff and utility services, in an effort to bail out the Commission. Additionally, the Government had said that workers were not paid their $25,000 bonus in 2018, which was announced and not honoured by the APNU/AFC Government. (G3)