APNU presidential candidate David Granger on Thursday met with executives of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), telling them that an administration led by him would promote a safe environment for miners and support the industry.
The meeting was held at the invitation of the GGDMA, which said Granger was the first to respond to invites sent to presidential candidates who will represent the leading political parties at the upcoming elections.
GGDMA said it is promoting the meetings to gauge the vision for the local mining industry and likely direction for the sector during the next administration. “The miners expressed the view that as a group they have been traditionally non-political, but recognised that they are a formidable lobby that could make a difference on the political landscape,” the GGDMA noted in a statement.
Some of the issues discussed at the meeting between Granger and the executive included the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS); Amerindian titled lands; the regulatory framework to minimise perceived corruption in state agencies; taxation and royalty rates; and security sector reform, which featured prominently.
According to the GGDMA, the body’s executive raised their concerns about the contraction of alluvial mining due to actions being taken by the current administration, especially in the non-renewal of rentals for previously held properties, as well as the recently tabled Protective Areas Bill.
Granger, the GGDMA said, indicated that he was not impressed by the levels of consultation with key stakeholders during the development of the LCDS, while adding that there should be a review to make it a component of a broader framework. He was of the view that in its current form the LCDS is just a means to get money from certain sources.
The GGDMA added that Granger said the state ought to be supportive and not in conflict with the mining industry. The state should be engaged in exploration to give useful information on the mineral inventory of properties so that miners could work profitable lands and non-profitable mining areas could be set aside for economic purposes, he was reported as saying.
He added that the taxation regime should be reviewed so as to encourage greater production by miners, which would benefit the state, the industry and the miners.
Granger also said an administration led by him would promote a safe environment for miners. He promised to implement recommendations to reform the disciplined services, to prevent gun-running and narco-trafficking, to ensure better pay and working conditions for security personnel and to ensure improved protection of indigenous communities and the environment, including the abatement of mercury pollution.
He also noted that he heard credible evidence of trafficking of young Amerindians during his visits to the hinterland.