Gov’t to decide on the extension of Barama’s contract by month end
Government is expected to make a decision in relation the renewal of the contract between itself and Barama Co. Ltd, before September 30, 2016. The 25 year contract with the logging company comes to an end on October 16, 2016.
In a statement refuting claims that “workers of Barama Co. Ltd are likely to lose their jobs because of government’s inaction,” the Ministry of Natural Resources said a report is expected before the end of this month from the Task Force convened in 2015, to examine the request for an extension of the contract.
“This task force was deemed necessary given the rapacious activities of some foreign companies operating in the forests of Guyana, and some not so positive observations that had been expressed about Barama in particular,” the Ministry said.
The Legal Consultant began reviewing the existing contract, forest concessions, and tax incentives previously enjoyed by the company, while other members of the team examined critical issues such as workers’ rights, value added operations and environmental management practices, to name a few.
The Task Force comprised representatives of: Ministries of Business, Natural Resources, Public Infrastructure and Indigenous Peoples Affairs, the Guyana Revenue Authority, the Guyana Forestry Commission and a Legal Consultant.
“The Ministry of Natural Resources rejects any assertion that the loss of jobs is tied to the renewal of Barama’s contract and calls on the company to set the record straight” the statement added, noting that Barama Co. Ltd has lost its market share in Asia which is affecting its profitability. It further disclosed that there are also challenges experienced by bad weather conditions.
In an article published in Friday’s edition of the Stabroek News under the caption “Info blackout on Barama contract creating uncertainty among workers – Lewis,” it was disclosed approximately seventy Guyanese employees were retrenched from the company with effect from Thursday, September 01, 2016 as “an apparent wind down towards eventual closure” of the company’s operations. The details were supplied by General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis who had a meeting with the officials from Barama earlier in the week.