[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Government has given a strong commitment to work with the relevant State agencies and all other stakeholders to address the issues affecting the small loggers of Region 10.
A team of representatives from the logging community within the region met with Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, who has responsibilities for the Natural Resources Sector.
Reporting on the meeting, Minister Trotman told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that the group which came to the Department consisted of representatives from fourteen different logging associations in Region 10. Among the major concerns raised were, access to lands for logging purpose and tax concessions.
“They are concerned about an obvious downturn in the global economy. A lot of logs were going to China and Asia and there have been a down turn, so they have a lot of stock in hand, they want to know what concessions if any, Government can give,” Minister Trotman said.
According to Trotman, concerns were raised about large logging companies crowding them out on the market, the impassable state of access to roads and fuel prices. He described the meeting as ‘a very good’ one.
The representatives have pledged their support to the new government but according to the Minister, “they have also put us on notice that it is not a blanket support, they expect that we would perform in their interest.”
“I do plan a visit to Region 10 later in the month of September, and I would insist that Minister Patterson go along, because the state of the road is very critical, much of the cost of production or getting the logs to market has to do with transportation and the bad state of the road … so hopefully the trip can involve Minister Patterson and some others, where we can bring some immediate relief and the Minister can see for himself what the needs are,” he stated.
As it relates to reviewing the tax concessions granted already to existing companies, the Minister explained that “I do not want us to get into the mood of being anti-investment or anti-foreigner, we are going to ensure that the playing will be level, it must be the same for the foreigners as well as for the local small loggers, these are things we are working on with the GFC.”
The intention of the Administration is to also ensure that those large companies, who have been granted concessions, that they are working them and doing that in a proper manner, respecting the country’s laws and regulations, the Minister stated.
“We want to ensure that they are keeping to their agreement at the end of the day, so that its value added, if they can’t, then we will look at taking them away, but we don’t want to start off by saying we are going to be taking anything away, that’s not in our interest,” said Trotman.