As a result of poorly implemented policies, Natural Resources Minister, Vickram Bharat contended during the 2020 budget debates that the forestry sector declined by more than 30 percent. Minister said that this became evident following his assessment of the industry’s performance upon assuming his new position. Bharat said it is clear that the APNU/AFC administration had disregarded this sector, thus leaving many forestry associations and hinterland communities crippled.
Minister Bharat also noted that this crippling effect also gripped the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC). In this regard, the Parliamentarian noted that this once profitable and efficiently run agency was unable to pay salaries for 417 workers as well as take care of other operational expenses. Minister Bharat said that the government, in less than one month was forced to bail out the Commission by disbursing $350M to cover operational costs and wages for the remainder of 2020 and to pay bonus to staff for the year 2018. He noted that efforts are ongoing to ensure that the Commission is back on its feet.
The Minister revealed that he has already started to strengthen the competence and experience of the Commission with an emphasis on enhancing its monitoring and enforcement arm and weeding out corruption and illegal logging.