(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – Suriname has made little progress in taxing the informal gold industry the IMF states in its recently issued country report. The organization had advised Suriname to collect the tax in advance, but the revenue service had rejected the idea, Gerold Dompig of the gold sector restructuring commission says.
Miners would be levied a fixed sum each month. ‘The miners have rejected the idea, because they claim they won’t be able to pay if they haven’t found gold. In addition, the levy would be determined by the equipment the miner has.’ Dompig does not consider this a good idea because it would mean that the revenue service would have to impose low tariffs and will never be able to benefit from a booming month. The revenue service has come up with a draft bill to tax gold miners when they offer their gold to the purchasing firms. ‘The government is currently studying the proposal which also calls for a hike in the tax tariffs, the lowest in the region.’
Gold miners in Guyana pay 8 percent tax, while in French Guiana they are levied 8.5 percent. In Suriname the tax is only three to four percent. The previous government had imposed the low tariffs to stimulate the gold industry, but it has now grown out of hand. However, Dompig agrees with the IMF that there is little progress in the collection process. The revenue service has started with the bigger firms: 16 owners of dredgers and 250 of heavy equipment were served notices.
Dredgers were levied an average SRD 6 million. Fiscal authorities have even served outstanding tax debts dating back to 2008. Still the revenue service is not aggressive enough in its collection and it is even regrettable that Suriname does not have fiscal police. Currently the government is negotiating new concessions with international concerns Surgold and IAMGOLD. The IMF has again advised to add clauses for fair and efficient tax payment. If the negotiations are successful Suriname will be able to double its gold production in the next three to four years. Suriname should not hesitate to seek international help for the negotiations in order to secure a fair share of its natural resources.