…$50M to set-up facilityOn the heels of calls for clarity from Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo over the $50 million being allocated for the forestry stockyard, the Natural Resources Ministry has confirmed that the facility will be managed by an oversight body.The project is a public private partnership; one for which taxpayers’ dollars were allocated in the 2018 Budget. According to a release from the Ministry on Tuesday,Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeothe project will be executed under the “strictest standards of transparency and accountability.”According to the statement, the Guyana Forestry Commission had announced “that the facility will be managed by an oversight body and will work with the operators so that orders can be consolidated to meet a particular demand or market in accordance with set quality standards.”It had also made known that “The facility will in no way compete with the Private Sector as there will be no price disadvantage or compulsory requirements from the Private Sector.”On how the $50 million would be used, the Ministry noted that “the sum allocated in the Budget for the Dimension Stockyard will be used to set-up the regulatory framework of the facility, the governance and administrative structure, conduct site preparation activities inclusive of minimal capital equipment and marketing efforts.”Natural Resources Minister Raphael TrotmanPrivate Sector’s ideaThe Ministry stressed that the stockyard was the Private Sector’s idea and had been proposed in order to grow the sector. It was noted that last year, Finance Minister Winston Jordan met with representatives from the forestry sector and agreed to a number of measures, including the stockyard.“In response to the needs of the forestry sector, Government has crafted a plan for the establishment of a Dimension Stockyard through a Private Public Partnership that will assure a reliable supply of quality timber products to the domestic and export market without competing directly with the Private Sector. It was observed that for some time now it was difficult to obtain quality raw materials (lumber) in sufficient quantity and dimensions.”“The Consolidated or Dimension Stockyard is intended to bridge this gap of obtaining an improved quality of lumber, in sufficient quantity and a reliability of supply. It is believed that the quality of locally produced lumber is not at the level to make it very competitive both locally and internationally, as only a few operators are producing lumber at the desired quality level.”Stressing that the project was an important one for the sector, the Natural Resources Ministry ended its release by taking a swing at the Opposition Leader and the media for “erroneous comments”.At a press conference last month, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had questioned the specifics of the project while pointing to the Government’s “culture of secrecy” and the murky details being offered in the media about the project.Querying whether due process would be followed, Jagdeo had questioned exactly who the Government’s partner in the project would be and the specifics of the process to be used to select the partner(s).