President pledges duty concession for miners

Mining sector awardees with President Donald Ramotar (fourth from right) and Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud (GINA photo)

With gold declarations still worryingly down, Presi-dent Donald Ramotar last evening said that duty- free concessions for a certain type of vehicle that miners have made representation to Government for are being worked on and should be unveiled soon, the Government Informa-tion Agency said yesterday.

“We will grant these of course. We will want to tie (it) to gold declaration, and we want to tie it to payment of taxes in our society so that those of you who will be qualified in that area can be assured that this will be looked into,” he told those gathered at the Opening and Award ceremony for Mining Week 2014, at the Gravity Lounge, Camp and Regent streets.

Ramotar lauded the work of stakeholders in the mining sector.

“I know last year was a very good year for you and for the first time Guyanese miners without the major, big Omai-like investments made the highest production of gold in our country and that was a signal achievement of the work of our miners… therefore you will see how much we do appreciate mining and do understand the important role that it plays in Guyana’s development, and I see myself that there will be a growing role for mining as we diversify into other areas,” the President stated.

Mining sector awardees with President Donald Ramotar (fourth from right) and Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud (GINA photo)
Mining sector awardees with President Donald Ramotar (fourth from right) and Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Robert Persaud (GINA photo)

He urged that they use the proceeds acquired from mining sensibly and invest it in a manner to ensure that future generations will also benefit.

“We hope that adding investment to add value will be something that we can look forward to, to ensure that more people will have. Moreover, we are investing a lot in our people, and I think that is the best way we can invest the proceeds of mining, to develop capacity… and that is why it is so important for us in order to ensure that we develop among all miners the social conscience and the understanding of the importance it is for us to develop the Guyanese population as a whole”, he said.

Speaking to the state of the industry, he said that there are times when stakeholders will make big profits and other times when there will be downturns.

“I just want to note in passing that most of you made investments in this industry at the time when the price of gold was less that a $1000 and when it went over $1800, of course you made a good margin and hopefully that will increase our efficiency to ensure that the margin will remain the same even if the price comes down a little bit more”, Ramotar stated , according to GINA.

The decline in declarations has worried the government as gold has been the major driver of the economy in recent years and is a key source of foreign exchange. Earlier this year, the declaration level was down by 20%. By mid year it was still down by 16%

Ramotar had said that it was his government’s view that the shortage in declarations was due to hoarding of the precious metal by miners.

However, industry insiders have rebuffed government’s position saying instead that a drop in production was one of the major factors responsible for the decline in gold declarations for this year, which has seen Guyana losing $20 billion in foreign exchange earnings.

An official of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) had stressed recently that the drop in price had affected miners significantly and stated that in the wake of the drop in gold prices the organisation has been lobbying government for concessions.

A raft of measures were announced last month by the government to staunch the drop in declarations. These include spending more than $1.5 billion on road repairs in mining districts to allow for better access by miners. Works will be done on the Puruni, Issano and Mahdia roads among many others. This will be coupled with the rehabilitation of bridges and the designing of a new road from Parika to Goshen.

 

The GGDMA has also been granted a licence by the GGMC to import and distribute its own fuel at more competitive rates subject to local laws and regulations.

New lands will also be made available for mining both on a large and small scale basis as land availability has been of major concern to miners.

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