Miners still unhappy following meeting with Ramotar

Miners are not happy with the results of a meeting with President Donald Ramotar on March 5, President of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) Patrick Harding has said.

At the meeting at the International Conference Centre at Liliendaal, the miners repeated requests made at a similar meeting in January last year. Harding related yesterday that Ramotar “said he couldn’t promise anything so that’s it.” He said that the miners are not happy with the outcome of the meeting as they had hoped that something would have happened.

The GGDMA president said that the association has not yet determined their next steps but noted that nothing much can happen at this time due to the impending May 11 general elections. He said that they have to wait and see what the outcome of the elections would be.

Miners at the meeting (GINA photo)
Miners at the meeting (GINA photo)

The Government Infor-mation Agency (GINA) had reported that at the meeting, Ramotar and Minister of Natural Re-sources and the Environ-ment, Robert Persaud assured that government would continue its support to the mining sector through ongoing collaboration at various levels. The Government reiterated its collaboration with all stakeholders within the mining sector towards the viability and sustainability of the mining sector, GINA reported.

The GGDMA again expressed their appreciation for the support provided by the government for the issuance of a fuel import licence, waivers on spares and equipment for the mining sector, access to foreign currency and tax waivers on double cab pick-ups, GINA said.

Stabroek News reported last month that miners at the GGDMA’s bi-monthly meeting had slated the government for not keeping promises made to support the sector. They had said that the authorities are only playing politics while disseminating “false information” about concessions given to miners. “The reality is we haven’t got anything, just press releases,” chairman of the meeting Edward Shields had said. “I hope you got the message, the miners have been on a merry go round for quite a while,” he had said. “We ain able with this merry go round no more.”

Pointing out that despite promises, they have gotten no benefits while foreign mining companies are getting numerous concessions, the miners’ vowed action in 2015 which they have dubbed the ‘Year of Action.’

Shields had said that the GGDMA is very disappointed with the situation where a lot of false information is being published about miners obtaining benefits. He declared that the GGDMA has been working extremely hard while the authorities have been “playing politics.”

Shields pointed out that the GGDMA had requested duty-free spare parts and Ramotar had also promised last year at a meeting with miners that he had no problem with reducing rentals, but they are still waiting for this promise to be kept. For other promises such as the establishment of an inter-ministerial task force, there was only one meeting and it was a similar case for other committees, Shields said. “The minister meets with us when it is convenient for him,” Shields asserted and said that on these occasions there are photographers and reporters but nothing ever happens.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment Joslyn McKenzie subsequently said that government continues to be supportive of the mining sector and found the comments by the miners’ reps “surprising.”

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