The Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) has responded to claims made by Kaieteur News’ publisher, Glenn Lall that Guyana’s gold and forestry sectors are being exploited by foreign companies, branding his accusations as mistruths.
Lall, while making his recent comments claimed that foreigners are being allowed to construct roads and bridges in the interior for their operations where the exploit the nation’s resources and even go as far as preventing locals from setting foot on some of these bridges and roads.
In an issued statement the GFC noted that such an accusation is false and that emphasised that no foreign company operating in the forestry sector has been granted contracts to construct roads and bridges. Instead, companies, both foreign and local, develop roads within their concessions for their private use, and most of the roads used by forestry-related companies are built and maintained by the Government of Guyana.
To further address infrastructure development, the GFC pointed out that the government allocated a significant budget of $781.9 billion, the largest in Guyana’s history, in Budget 2023. Over $4 billion of this budget it said was allocated for building, upgrading, and maintaining hinterland roads and bridges. Notably, the government is constructing a major road corridor, the US$190 million Linden to Mabura road network, along with new bridges from Linden to Kurupukari. These infrastructure projects are accessible to all Guyanese and foreign companies operating in various sectors as part of the government’s transformative agenda to enhance national infrastructure.
The statement also refuted claims that foreign companies receive special duty-free privileges for their operations. It clarified that all heavy-duty equipment, including those used in the forestry and other sectors, are duty-free. This privilege is available to any individual or company, foreign or local, operating in Guyana, and it is granted in accordance with the law by the Guyana Revenue Authority.
The GFC emphasized the true state of the forestry sector, noting that there are over 550 concession holders, both small and large, operating in the logging industry. Contrary to the misleading article, it said there are only five foreign companies holding concessions in the forestry sector. The current level of production is well below the allowable cut, affirming that the nation’s resources are not being exploited. Guyana has a robust forest management system, according to the GFC, resulting in one of the lowest deforestation rates globally. In addition, it said responsible forestry management has allowed the country to secure a lucrative space in the carbon credit market.
Last year, Guyana certified 33.5 million tonnes of carbon credits for sale, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of credits to Hess Corporation, a partner in the Stabroek Block, amounted to a minimum of US$750M. Fifteen percent of these funds have already been allocated to indigenous villages for livelihood activities, significantly transforming the lives and economic sustainability of hinterland communities across the nation.
The GFC encouraged Kaieteur News and its publisher to seek factual information from relevant entities regarding the management of Guyana’s natural resources sector, noting that the Ministry of Natural Resources remains transparent and accessible to all those seeking accurate information.