Village captain resigns over logging fees
November 4, 2003
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Irregular practices have been discovered in the logging activities of the Mana-warin village in Region One, where the captain has resigned after being unable to account for more than $300,000 in royalties.
Captain Philip Williams resigned and his council was dissolved in the wake of the controversy, which prompted Minis-ter of Amerindian Affairs, Carolyn Rod-rigues, to call for better accountability and more responsibility, a Government Information Agency (GINA) news report said.
“I wish I was here under different circumstances,” said Rodrigues who visited the community last weekend after she had heard several complaints about logging in Manawarin and the report surfaced that the captain had entered into an agreement with people from outside the village.
At a meeting on Saturday to resolve the complaints, Williams revealed that he had allowed an individual to log in the community while the other councillors claimed they were unaware of the agreement. Financial reports read at the meeting show that the individual did not pay any royalties.
When the Council was elected in 2002 it was established that coastlanders (outsiders) would pay $11 per board measurement and villagers would pay only $4.But coastlanders have been paying the village rate of $4 per board measurement.
The financial report also revealed that permits needed to verify the amount of board measurements loggers transport out of the community were in the hands of three councillors. They say this was due to the location of the logging operations and it was more conducive to have the permits divided.
But Rodrigues said too many persons were issuing permits and instructed that certain systems be put in place to rectify the situation. She advised the Guyana Forestry representative in the village against issuing permits to Manawarin village until the new council addressed the illegal logging error.
Williams said he would resign his position and two councillors followed him.
An interim council was elected by the villagers with Roy Atkinson as Captain, Tobin Lyte Secretary, Bertie Benjamin Treasurer, Doreen France, Daisy Miguel and Morris John.
Rodrigues cited a similar case in the village of Santa Rosa where the captain was unable to account for money and expressed disgust at the situation. She said if persons were found to be involved in illegal activities they will have to face the consequences of their actions and would be dealt with by the police and the courts.