GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (CMC) – Guyana on Tuesday launched a GUY$900 million forestry fund aimed at providing assistance to investors in the forestry industry.
“We see the forestry sector continuing to play an important role within the context of the sustainable management of Guyana’s forest resources for the long term in the interest of Guyana continuing to make our contribution to the global fight against climate change,” said Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh.
He told the launch that the fund would create room for a significant increase in production and further build the market.
The memorandum of understanding for the fund was signed last year between the Ministry of Finance and the Demerara Bank Limited.
Last October, President Dr Irfaan Ali pledged the government's commitment to working with forestry stakeholders with the intention being to increase productivity and foster sustainable forest management practices.
Singh said that borrowers will have a responsibility, adding “we want this fund to perform well. We want everybody who borrows from it to do well and for their business to grow. We expect them to repay the monies they borrow”.
The loans will be provided at an interest rate of four per cent with the finance minister warning borrowers that all loans must be paid on time so as to ensure the continuity of the fund. He also said that the initiative represents an important example of partnering with the private sector.
DBL’s chief executive officer, Pravinchandra Dave urged banks to support businesses with accessing finance, noting that the injection of finance will act as a catalyst to aid the recovery of the forest sector through investments to facilitate value-added production, increased allowable extraction and recovery rates.
“We believe that the benefit of the bank should go to all sectors of the society. We are not working only for the shareholders or few entrepreneurs or few businessmen.”
He said 16 per cent of the company’s lending goes to agriculture, 10 per cent to oil and gas, 11 per cent to telecommunication. Adding, “we found that three sectors are neglected – forestry, agriculture and mining.
“We are working out a project in which we can help these three sectors,” he added.
Guyana’s forestry sub sector provides employment for an estimated 22,000 people, including 4,000 women in various communities.
Forestry Minister Vickram Bharrat reiterated the importance of the forestry industry to the overall socio-economic development of Guyana.
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