Anxious Sukhai signs “communist” agreement with Bai Shan Lin

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Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai (centre) with Hururu Toshao, Winsbert Benjamin (left) and General Manager of Bai Shan Lin, Han Zhen Jun (right) signing the Memorandum of Understanding at the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. [GINA Photo]
[www.inewsguyana.com] – In a bizarre event on Wednesday, February 25 Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai anxiously signed a “communist” lease agreement with Chinese company Bai Shan Lin and the Amerindian village of Hururu.

The lease agreement was not fully negotiated between the company and the village at the time cameras were set up for the event. The negotiations took place in the full view of the media.

Before signing, Bai Shan Lin wanted the agreement to explicitly state that it would be able to use existing wharf in the village once the agreement was signed.

Sukhai did not agree and suggested that the Hururu Village Council could write the company to say that it can use the existing facilities. Bai Shan Lin officials hesitated, but the Minister saw nothing unsure about what she was suggesting.

“That will suffice in the communist kind of agreement too,” a giggling Sukhai told the officials.

The Bai Shan Lin representatives were not enthused, with the translator saying they could not see what was so difficult about putting their demand in writing.

The Chinese company negotiated for a while more, as Sukhai made suggestions to the representatives of the village, including its Toshao.

With Bai Shain Lin officials seeming to be taking too long, Sukhai became impatient and butted in: “Hello, are we signing?”

Sukhai insisted that the lease agreement had nothing to do with use of facilities and she stated that the village had no problems with the use of the facilities. She gave that commitment for the village even while saying that the formal permission is needed after consultation with the community’s Bridge Committee and the Village Council.

The agreement sees Bai Shan Lin leasing 27.4 acres of land from the village of Hururu at $5, 000 an acre. The company will be able to construct a wharf and log pond, along with two buildings and a parking lot for the company’s equipment and other vehicles. The lease will run for 25 years.

The company has promised to upgrade 2.5 miles of road, which it will be using and also to build a sporting facility for youths of the village.

There was uncertainty about when the road project would start in the agreement that also had to be adjusted during the negotiations taking place in front of reporters.

Again, Sukhai took the lead in negotiation for the Amerindian village, suggesting when the road works should commence and end.

When it came time for the formal ceremony, she then switched to saying it was the village that made all the decisions.

“They have done all the Amerindian Act required with respect to the negotiation, the engagement, the discussion, the reviews. The other stakeholders were informed and comments were invited.”

In the end, the agreement was signed with an undertaking that the village will write the company on the use of existing facilities, and with the company agreement to commence road works within two weeks.