Govt committed to ensuring GFC financially viable

-Industry had “crippled” under the previous administration – Min Edghill

The Government of Guyana is working to ensure that the Guyana Forestry Commission is financially viable and self-sustaining in the short, medium and long-term by reinvigorating the industry.

This was announced by Minister of Public Works, Hon. Juan Edghill as he read the budget for 2020. “To this end, we have included in this Budget measures to allow companies to recapitalise to improve efficiency in operations.”

He explained these include the removal of VAT on machinery and equipment, the provision of tax concessions on all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) as well as the reversal of VAT on exports and the removal of VAT on hinterland travel. Minister Edghill noted that additionally, the log export policy will be amended to allow saw millers to export logs, which he noted will boost industry production and revenues.

The Public Works Minister reminded that the forestry industry had “crippled” under the previous administration with the GFC becoming financially distressed. This led to the commission being unable to pay basic salaries and other operational expenses.

“If one examines the records, it will show that at the end of 2014 the Commission recorded a net surplus of approximately $211 million which plummeted to a marginal surplus of $2.3 million in 2019; the Commission is in a depleted financial state. In addition, exports fell from approximately US$53 million in 2014 to US$34 million in 2019. The downturn in this industry over the last five years, caused by poor policies, has, in turn, resulted in the deterioration of logging roads, since investors, like Barama Company Limited, that maintained some key hinterland infrastructure, exited the industry, due to bad policies under the previous Administration,” the Minister noted.

Just recently the Government of Guyana through His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, approved $350Million to support the cash-strapped entity to pay salaries to staff and utility services. Additionally, the government committed to ensuring that the workers who have not been paid their $25,000 bonus in 2018, which was announced and not honoured by the previous administration is paid.

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