Following a commitment by the National Technical Working Group (NTWG) in collaboration with the FLEGT Secretariat to continue public involvement and participation with relevant stakeholders in the Guyana- European Union (EU) Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT VPA) process, a national round of consultations is on-going across Guyana to update key stakeholders of the progress of the Guyana- EU FLEGT VPA.
Over the past week, January 30 to February 3, 2017, three (3) cluster sessions were held within Region One, the Northwest District (Moruca, Mabaruma and Port Kaituma) to inform persons of an overview and updates of the VPA Text along with all its eleven (11) annexes but more specifically, on Annex II: Legality Definition, Annex V: The Guyana Timber Legality Assurance System (GTLAS) and Annex VIII: Supporting Measures and Financing Mechanisms.
The three sessions captured approximately one hundred and fifty persons (150) persons including key stakeholders within the logging operations such as Forest Sector Operators (FSOs) from Amerindian villages, large concessions and lumber yard dealers, others interested in the forest sector and other stakeholders such as representatives from Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
Photograph above captured during the national Guyana EU FLEGT VPA consultation held in Region One, Kabukalli, Moruca at the Slavie’s Savannah View on January 30, 2017 informing those present of the Annex 8: Supporting Measure and Financing Mechanism.
The VPA Text and Annexes, GTLAS and Guyana EU FLEGT VPA booklets, DVDs on FLEGT Seminars and FLEGT Updates were distributed to members at the gathering. From this, attendees were able to have groups discussions on the documents given to them.
As a means of strengthening the Guyana- EU FLEGT VPA, perons expressed an interest to be compliant with the requirements of National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and Guyanna Revenue Authortiy (GRA) but stated more capacity building is needed to be done to clarify the steps involved in being compliant with these indicators within the Legality Definition.
Concerns were also raised that the closest GRA office is located in Charity, while there is only one NIS office in Mabaruma, none in Port Kaituma nor Moruca. Participants stressed that it is very costly for residents living within the riverain areas in Moruca, Port Kaituma and further out of Mabaruma to have access to information from these two agencies. The present and potiential registrants of NIS and GRA, recommended more collaboration with Guyana Forest Commission and these agencies to foster support to them under Annex VIII, so that offices can be established in each sub-region of the Northwest District to improve communication between these agencies and the FSOs so that persons within the logging sector can easily achieve the criteria of the Legality Definition, in order for the timber and timber products can be deemed legal before entering the market.
Fortunately, the NIS representative from Mabaruma Office, Ms. Ward, was present at the meeting, and some participants at the gathering from Mabaruma and Port Kaituma took the opportunity to collect NIS forms and contact information to begin the process of registering for NIS.
Meanwhile, villages were also hopeful that the EU FLEGT process can improve the collaboration between the Government and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) with regards to fostering greater discussion on issues relating to titling and/or demarcation.
Photograph showing attendees having group discussions on the legality definition
Apart from this, persons were very ethusiatic about the VPA beccause of the secured access to an international market while strengthening GFC’s Wood Tracking System to curb illegal activities and provision for more inter-agencies collaboration within the GTLAS which creates a plaform to resolving issues within the logging sector. The participants also stated they are pleased that these consultations are being held so that they can be more informed of available training and capacity building to improve their logging operations and also provide feedbacks to strengthen the Guyana EU FLEGT VPA process. The next consultation is set to be held in Region 6, Orealla on February 5, 2017.
Photograph show the national Guyana EU FLEGT VPA consultation held in Region one, Kumaka, Mabaruma at the L & D Resort on February 1, 2017 with participants reviewing the GTLAS booklet (based on Annex 5 of the VPA)
Photograph above is depicting Ms. Ward, NIS representative from Mabaruma NIS Office informing persons on key points and benefits of NIS.
Photograph depicting participants reviewing the Legality Definition for Amerindian Villages during the national Guyana EU FLEGT VPA consultation held in Region one, Central Port Kaituma at the Port Kaituma Community Centre on Feb 3, 2017.