Barama to fast-track production of plywood amid shortage – Pres. Ali

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President Dr Irfaan Ali

With construction at an all-time high in Guyana, the industry is currently facing a shortage of plywood, and local timber operator Barama Company Limited (BCL) has since committed to ramping up production over the coming weeks to meet this demand.

Speaking at the sod-turning ceremony of a new Demerara Bank Limited branch at Leonora, West Coast Demerara on Thursday afternoon, President Dr Irfaan Ali disclosed that trickle-down effect of the construction is already being felt across the country, but it’s not all in a positive light. He disclosed that several builders have complained about a shortage of plywood in the country.

“In order to keep a pace with development, many developers are working [around the clock and] in the nights… All of this is happening under very difficult global circumstances, not only in terms of food prices, but in terms of material prices. But forget about the prices, the supply alone [is an issue with] huge deficits in global demand and supply,” he posited.

To this end, the Head of State pointed out that the Guyana Government, and the country as a whole, has to work harder and more creatively in finding more localised solutions to combat the global crisis.

In fact, he noted that after receiving the calls on Thursday about the plywood shortage, he immediately reached out to Barama for their intervention.

“They’ve assured me that, because of the rain, they had a limitation in the supply of the wood to the factory, and that they’re going to redouble their efforts to get a supply of logs into the factory, to bring the situation to some sort of balance in about three weeks.”

“The problem is, even on the international market, there is severe shortages of plywood, of sheet rock and so on. So, these are some of the challenges we are faced with,” the President told reporters on the sidelines of Thursday’s event.

Nevertheless, with the construction sector booming, the Head of State anticipates a similar situation would arise with other building materials, and, as such, efforts are underway to ensure that there is a steady supply of sand. This, he added, would also regulate costs.
“In order to address the issue of the construction cost, and to ensure that we keep some amount of management of this, we are now looking at the opening up of a sand pit that would be managed by one of the Government agencies,” President Ali has said.

“That is to bring some balance in terms of the prices, because with the boom in construction, or what is expected [in the construction sector], it is going to continue to put pressure on the supply side, because demand is not falling back but demand is increasing rapidly,” the Guyanese leader stated.

According to President Ali, this initiative is still in the planning stages, hence a location for the sand pit has not been identified as yet.

However, he noted that this facility would be managed via collaboration between either the Ministry of Housing’s Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) or the Public Works Ministry and the Private Sector, which would have to supply the equipment to operate the pit.

Having grown by 29.8 per cent in 2021, the local construction sector is slated to grow another 10.5 per cent this year – a projection in Budget 2022.

Since taking office in August 2020, the Ali-led People’s Progressive Party/Civic Administration has implemented a series of initiatives to facilitate the rapid expansion of the construction sector in the country, and to ensure a steady supply of materials.
In fact, back in April this year, the Government removed Value Added Tax (VAT) on cement. This was in addition to the removal of VAT, in Budget 2022, on building and construction materials on which VAT was imposed after 2014.

Meanwhile, having previously recognised the increased demand for construction materials, the Government, in June last year, granted a quarry licence to a subsidy of Mohamed’s Enterprise – Hadi’s World Inc – for the operation of the Kwapau Quarry Areas 1 and 2 and ATANA Quarry Blocks 1 and 2 in the Mazaruni River.

In April, the company signed a long-term partnership pact with China Harbour Engineer Company Guyana Inc (CHEC) to pursue the US$25M quarry project to cater to the construction sector. As a result, Mohamed’s Enterprise is currently developing a facility at a prime waterfront property in Providence, East Bank Demerara, to support its quarry operations as well as the oil and gas sector.

The 25-acre property will be transformed into a stone depot and shore-based facility.