Ministry of Natural Resources statement on Barama Company Ltd.

Ministry of Natural Resources, Guyana, October 22, 2016

Following on Barama Company Ltd’s decision not to renew the forest concession the Ministry of Natural Resources, and the Guyana Forestry Commission, will continue to engage Barama’s management, whilst working in tandem with the Ministry of Social Protection, and the workers representatives, to address a myriad of issues that arise from the relinquishment of the 1.6 million hectare forest  concession.

Any plan going forward will have to take into account the welfare of workers and the obligations Barama was obliged to perform under the now expired agreement. Many of these, as can be imagined, cannot be bought to an abrupt end.

It is in moments like this, of change and transition, that stakeholders have to work to make the process as smooth as possible by avoiding panic, knee jerk reactions, or “one upmanship” tactics.

Whilst the Government is disappointed by the action of Barama in making statements about workers being laid off even before the relevant entities have met to map the way forward, and is yet unable to find a rational reason why this precipitous action was taken, nevertheless it will continue to provide mature responses, and direction, by engaging all stakeholders objectively and in good faith.

The Government expects that Barama likewise, and other stakeholders, will be committed to beneficial talks and will avoid brinkmanship as all can agree that this is a slippery slope one should consider carefully before embarking on.

The various stakeholders will meet in a few days time to begin the process of defining the way forward for the workers, the company, the forest concession, and the dwellers and users of the concession, including miners. In the coming weeks, as Minister responsible, I will personally hold meetings with the workers at the Barama sites at Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara and Buckhall, Essequibo.

Together, we will find the best path forward.

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