Disbursements of $900M Forestry Revolving Fund to begin in 2 weeks

…foresters to be engaged directly for pre-fab home materials – Ali

The Government has announced the impending rollout of the first disbursements from the $900 million revolving fund, a fund set up last year to provide much needed capital to persons looking to launch or expand their operations in the forestry sector.
This announcement was made by President Dr Irfaan Ali, who was at the time making an address to residents of Kwakwani (Region 10) on the campaign trail ahead of the 2023 Local Government Elections (LGE).
Kwakwani is well known as both a mining and logging village on the Berbice River in the Upper Demerara-Berbice region. And according to the President, the first set of disbursements from the fund will occur within two weeks.
“In two weeks, Demerara Bank has assured me that they will be disbursing the first 40 loans for the community forestry organisation and foresters, in the $900 million revolving credit facility,” the President said.
“We will be continuing our investment in forestry. We will be investing in facilities that will allow you to bring value added production to your forest products. We will be engaging you on the materials for the wooden pre-fab homes.”
President Ali noted that even now, Guyana is supplying thousands of pre-fabricated homes across the Region. He contrasted this with the lack of support for the forestry sector during the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change’s (APNU/AFC) time in Government.
Last year, with assistance from Demerara Bank Limited, the Guyana Government set up a $900 million revolving fund that is aimed at boosting the forestry sector to meet market demands. President Ali had announced that some $300 million from the State’s coffers has been set aside for this revolving fund.
This sum will be further supplemented by $600 million more provided by Demerara Bank Limited. It had been explained that this $900 million revolving fund will carry a low interest rate of four per cent. According to the Head of State, through a partnership with the Guyana Forestry Commission under the Ministry of Natural Resources, a committee will be established to ensure that persons are adhering to and abiding by what is expected of them, that is, the sector itself and its various associations.
The Government, through the GFC, has committed to continue working with all forest stakeholders to increase productivity in keeping with sustainable forest management practices. When the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration took office in August 2020, it inherited a “grossly mismanaged” forestry sector that was on the “verge of collapse. However, through various interventions and initiatives implemented by the Government, this industry has made a turnaround.
In 2020 alone, the Ali-led Administration injected $350 million into the then cash-strapped Guyana Forestry Commission to cover operational costs and wages for staff for the remainder of the year.
Strategies aimed at boosting the financial performance and management capabilities of the GFC were undertaken and in 2021, the forestry sector was able to make a positive turnover and manage on its own.
One achievement of the sector in 2021 included getting stakeholders, particularly small-scale loggers back into the business which resulted in the construction boom, and an increase in log production, with over 400,000 cubic feet declared.
Meanwhile, the GFC’s monthly revenue collection was increased from $70 million in 2019 to over $90 million in 2021 while over 100 new concessions were issued to small loggers.
Additionally, monitoring capabilities were advanced with the procurement of more off-terrain vehicles to venture into the hinterland for exercises.
Further, 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. (G3)