By Kurt Campbell
Is there really a shortage in domestically produced stones and who is lying? These questions remain unanswered in the minds of many, as the saga between the Guyana Government and local Producer, BK International continues on the issue.
During a visit to the BK Quarry at Tiperu, Region Seven today Saturday September 14, Sales and Marketing Director Briony Tiwari maintained that BK quarries can supply the national demand for stones and that there were no shortage in the commodity.
These comments run counter to those of the Government which was backed up by a report done in May of this year, showing a 40% deficit in the supply of stones according to Public Works Minister Robeson Benn.
Benn claimed that BK International may only now have enough stones to satisfy the national demand since its supply to the construction of the Marriott Hotel slowed up.
However, Managing Director of BK International, Brian Tiwari believes the claim of a shortage of stones by the Public Works Minister is a personal attack on him and his company.
He said however, if the Government maintains that there is a shortage in the commodity and continues to import he will in turn export, citing that he currently has an order for 50 tons of aggregate in Trinidad.
The Managing Director also added that he will not challenge the Government in this regard while expressing fear that such a move might lead to more attacks on him and his business.
The younger Tiwari told reporters during the visit that in the last four days, four shipments of stones were sent to Georgetown via two barges and one ship amounting to some 8,000 tons.
On the ground at the time, she claimed they had approximately 12,000 tons and produces between 30 to 40 thousand tons of aggregate monthly.
She believes the difficulties the company experiences in relation to the storage of materials in Georgetown may have led to the assumption of this apparent shortage but maintains that there is none.
Minister Benn told reporters on Friday that this shortage exist for the last two years and expressed concerns at the quality of stones being produced locally.
To this end, the Sales Manager said she welcomes the Minister to test her materials on the ground.
“BK cannot be blamed for contractors who mix their materials” she said, adding that, “we are very diligent with our work and take pride in what we do.”
Against claims that BK’s prices are not competitive Tiwari said, “We have always maintained competitive prices, our company believes in value for money.”
Tiwari however expressed concerns that imported stones of lower qualities are being retailed at higher prices. BK International currently retails a ton of stone for $8,500 but hopes to in the future bring this down by $1,000.
Tiwari concluded by saying, “We are a Guyanese company, producing Guyanese materials for Guyanese projects, our main interest is the Guyana market and Guyanese consumers.”