Govt engages Forest Products Association on $900 Million Revolving Fund

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat with the officials from Forest Products Association

Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh along with Minister of Natural Resources Vickram Bharrat on Friday met with new President of the Forest Products Association Ganesh Singh and FPA’s Project Coordinator Mona Bynoe at the Ministry of Finance to discuss how Government can further assist in the development and expansion of the forestry sector.

The meeting comes on the heels of Government’s recent signing of a $900 Million Forestry Revolving Fund Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Demerara Bank Limited to boost production and value-added. It was also attended by Management Consultant of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC)Mr. James Singh.

During the discussion, Dr. Singh posited that Government will collaborate and support the FPA and called on its members to take full advantage of the opportunity of the revolving fund to boost their production. He congratulated and welcomed the new President and encouraged him to continue to engage with the forestry sector stakeholders in efforts to maximize the industry’s performance and improve the FPA’s status. The new President had indicated that the FPA had already been making efforts to engage its membership during countrywide outreaches.

Minister Bharrat highlighted the dismal state in which the former administration left the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) with the entity even unable to pay salaries and meet operational costs.

The GFC’s status has since been improving through Government’s efforts and support. TheFinance Minister then urged the new President to work towards moving the FPA from its current bankruptcy position and dismal state it inherited due to mismanagement at the FPA by previous leadership during the tenure of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change Government. The FPA President had related that the Association was in a dismal financial position.

The meeting also served as a follow-up to the meeting hosted on Thursday evening at State House by President Dr. Irfaan Ali where he had engaged the private sector and civil society for a “Discussion for 2023 and beyond”. President Ali was accompanied by Prime Minister Mark Phillips, Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo and the Finance Minister.

During that discussion, the FPA had raised some matters with which it wished to engage Government.

In October 2022, President Irfaan Ali announced a $900 Million Revolving Fund to boost Guyana’s forestry sector. He had indicated during his announcement that Government’s intention is to increase its focus on small, medium and community loggers and had noted that Government and Demerara Bank Limited will collaborate to make available the $900 Million revolving fund to increase production in the forestry sector.

On December 29, 2022 Government signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Bank during a simple signing ceremony at the Ministry of Finance. The signing was witnessed by the Natural Resources Minister, forestry sector stakeholders including representatives of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) and the Forest Products Association (FPA).

The establishment of the Fund is expected to address some of the challenges faced in the forestry sector in terms of the availability of easily accessible, low cost financing, especially for small-scale operators. The $900 Million Revolving Fund comprises a commitment of $300 Million by the Government of Guyana and a further $600 Million commitment by Demerara Bank Limited to address the challenges. It is expected to be utilized by individuals or companies operating within the forestry sector for the purpose of increasing production and value-added products in the sector.