Newly appointed Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharrat was informed that the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) was bankrupt, when he met with agency heads yesterday. So much so, that the Commission was unable to pay its staff for the month of July.
This revelation struck a nerve with the former A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC). In a statement today, it said that Minister Bharrat did not bother to inform himself but resorted to “play politics” on his very first day on the job.
“Minister Bharrat, who possesses no known experience or training in the natural resources sector did not even allow himself to be properly briefed on the issues. The facts are that though the GFC has endured a challenging period, it is poised to bring to the government coffers almost immediately some US$150M that has already been approved by the Government of Norway in recognition of the APNU+AFC Coalition Government’s sterling management of the forests. Further, payments of approximately US$130M under the LCDS (Low Carbon Development Strategy) for the lowest deforestation rates are also in train,” the coalition said.
The former administration went on to say that Bharrat should be “grateful” for this windfall at the very start of his tenure, and that he should desist from misleading the public.
But Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, said today that the financial situation at the GFC is worrying.
She told the nation: “When we left office in 2015, the Guyana Forestry Commission had four billion dollars ($4B) surplus. Today, it is bankrupt. It cannot pay the staff, it did not pay the staff in July…It is hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, and so, we have no apologies to make for bringing to the public’s attention what has happened to our country. How could $4B just disappear?”