Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), Jocelyn Dow, on Monday asserted that Chinese company BaiShanLin owes the Commission in excess of $80M and that moves are afoot to have that recovered in collaboration with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).
In September of 2016, the GFC had repossessed concessions held by BaiShanLin International Forest Development Inc (BIFDI), since it “failed to deliver on agreed actions to introduce investors to the Commission and having been given time to prove that it had an acceptable plan to clear an approximately GY$80 million debt”.
Earlier that same year, it was reported that the Long Jiang Forest Industries Group, a Chinese State-owned company, had acquired 55 per cent of the shares in BaiShanLin and had intended to fully take over the company in 2016.
The GFC said, in an effort to conclude the matter, representatives of BaiShanLin were invited to a meeting on April 8, 2016 to provide an update on its plans to clear the debt.
When the company started its operations locally in 2007, it had also committed under its investment agreement to establish a US$100 million wood processing plant in order to engage in value added exports – this too was never built.
The Commission said during the meeting company representatives had indicated that BaiShanLin suffered financial constraints, which affected the establishing of the wood processing facility, and the company was engaging a new partner that would contribute significantly to its investment in Guyana.
The GFC Board said it was, at the time, assured of the financial strength of the new partner, who had committed to pay off the debt owed by the company to the Commission.
“To date, the BIFDI has failed to fulfil any of its commitments to the Government of Guyana, effectively failing on the obligations it made, which were accepted in good faith.”
As such, the GFC had said, “In keeping with Forest Governance Practices, the GFC will be formally repossessing the concessions owned by the company and accelerating efforts to recover the debt owed.”
The GRA in April of 2016 had seized a Lexus SUV, PRR 2888, and a Nissan minivan, PRR 3888, from the Chinese logging company after it had failed to pay import taxes for the two luxury vehicles.
In the same year, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman indicated that Government was moving to up the ante in order to recover outstanding monies owed to the State.
The Administration had also banned the logging company from exporting any logs from Guyana until a resolution could be met.
BaiShanLin has repeatedly been accused of unscrupulous and sometimes illegal practices in Guyana’s forests and its export of logs.
The Chinese company has also been accused of contravening local laws to get around logging quotas by purchasing from small loggers and exporting those logs to China under their names.
BaiShanLin reportedly closed its operations in Guyana in September of 2016.