Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) Jocelyn Dow, revealed BaiShanLin owes the Commission in excess of $80 million while noting that moves are afoot to have the monies recovered with the assistance of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).Dow made the statement as a press conference on Monday as the Commission recapped the performance of the GFC’s Board of Directors.She noted that following the scrapping of over 680,000 hectares of concessions belonging to BaiShanLin, the company still owes the GFC over $80 million; and as such, they are making every effort to recover that.Board members of the Guyana Forestry Commission“As it stands the GRA has those assets and we have had some discussions as how it is we could jointly get to secure those assets and to offer them to sale so that we could get our money back. GRA sums are more considerable and they have the first lead on equipment so we have to work with then, as we are doing, to try and secure our monies,” she noted.The decision to take back the forest concessions of BaiShanLin International Forest Development Inc was due to their failure to keep several commitments to submit information about its operations in Guyana, to settle its $80 million arrears and submit a letter of commitment from the new partner.The five joint ventures that BaiShanLin had illegally entered into with local companies were also revoked and the lands seized. Some of the lands were in Berbice and in Region One (Barima-Waini).Meanwhile, GFC’s Commissioner James Singh noted that while the company is no longer operating in Guyana, they are still actively pursuing them to get their monies.China Development Bank (CDB), which had loaned BaiShanLin about US$70 million, had asked Guyana not to give out lands once held by BaiShanLin. In relation to this, Dow made it clear that the CDB has no standing with the GFC since they are not the concessionaires. She added that the GFC still owns the Chinese company’s concessions and that a decision would be made with regard to it very soon.Illegal loggingOver the weekend, there were reports that BaiShanLin was illegally operating in the Upper Berbice River area but the GFC’s Commissioner shot down those reports.According to the report, about three weeks ago, GFC employees stopped trucks at Waico, bearing the logo of BaiShanLin and found Wamara logs on it. The logs were reportedly traced to the disgraced company.“As far as the GFC is aware, BaiShanLin is not engaged in any forestry activities… the report made reference in illegal harvesting and it was a concession previously owned in the BaiShanLin. Yes, we have been investigating some illegal logging happening there but it is not associated with BaiShanLin,” Singh explained.“To the best of our knowledge it may be some nearby associations or stakeholders and we are currently investigating that. We can determine who is that because we have the chain of custody verification, the log tagging system so I would expect that we will be in a position to identify who it was,” he added.He promised to disclose the name of the person associated with illegally logging in the area within the next month after they would have completed their preliminary investigation.In September 2016, the GFC had repossessed concessions held by BaiShanLin International Forest Development Inc (BIFDI), since it failed to deliver on commitments.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. However, that was not done.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.BaiShanLin reportedly closed its operations in Guyana in September of 2016.
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