Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Plunder without Profit: Janette Bulkan on Guyana

253 South Road Bourda, Georgetown. Guyana.
Tele Nos. 592-227-5523/24


November 8, 2006

The Guyana Citizens’ Initiative is sponsoring a public presentation on the topic ‘Plunder without profit: an investigation into forest governance in Guyana’ by Janette Bulkan who is currently completing a PhD at Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Janette Bulkan has travelled and worked for over twenty years in Guyana’s interior on issues of local development and governance. Prior to pursuing a doctoral degree, Janette Bulkan was employed for over 15 years in the Amerindian Research Unit at the University of Guyana, and then as Senior Social Scientist with the Iwokrama Rainforest Programme for 3 years.

Janette Bulkan’s presentation will focus on findings of her research on developments in the forestry sector in the last ten years. The findings of this research are meaningful to all Guyanese who have an interest in good governance and sustainable development of Guyana.

Janette Bulkan’s presentation will focus on developments in the forestry sector in the last ten years. She catalogues the impact on the Guyanese economy, forest-dependent people, and the forests themselves of the export of an increasing volume of unprocessed logs, not peeler logs, but the prime Guyanese hardwoods. These logs are mostly shipped to Asia by the Asian-owned enterprises which now dominate the forest economy in Guyana. Yet these companies have or have had FDI incentives to invest in value-adding processing, employment and skills training for Guyanese.

Janette Bulkan argues that:

1-Forestry sector reforms were abandoned or not implemented and penalties not enforced on major companies; TNCs and local collaborators behave like pirates and abuse FDI arrangements;
2-Renewable natural resources are under-taxed when exported unprocessed;
3-Progressive national policy statements are not backed by adequate legislation and regulation; and
4-Oversight of regulatory agencies by the National Assembly / Select Committees and by civil society remains weak.

The outcomes of this regulatory vacuum include irregularities such as transfer pricing; under-declaration of log volumes in break bulk shipping; and mis-naming of timber species to evade controls, which result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of US $ monthly to the national exchequer and the liquidation of Guyana’s premium timbers without commensurate benefit to the nation.

Janette Bulkan advocates a return by regulatory agencies to the national interest (public good) versus private profits and sets out a programme of reforms that can be undertaken to stem the hemorrhage of the grossly under-valued patrimony of Guyana.

A public forum for presentation and discussion of these findings will be held at Cara Lodge in the Woodbine Room at 18:30 hours on Thursday, 9 November 2006.

GCI Secretariat
Telephone 227-5523/4
Fax: 227-5523

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