The executive of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) is calling for the government of Guyana to grant those miners who have not been paying tributors’ tax an amnesty.
This amnesty, according to the GGDMA, is necessary for a significant number of small miners to be able to access the tax exemptions afforded to gold miners by the APNU+AFC administration.
During its elections campaign, the APNU+AFC coalition had promised concessions for the mining industry, which is facing falling production amid slumping gold prices.
In his August 10th budget presentation, Finance Minister Winston Jordan announced tax exemptions for small and medium-scale miners on several items used in the industry. “I am pleased to announce that eligible gold miners will be exempted from the payment of custom duties on fuel, matting, ATVs, jack hammer drills, flex hoses, expanding metals, pumps, pump housing, impellers, shaft and engines,” he told the House. He said that pursuant to the Customs Duties (Amendment) (No.1) Order 2004, the government will enter into a new agreement with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the GGDMA to give effect to the grant of these tax exemptions.
However, since many do not pay tributors’ tax, which is set at 10% of their employees’ salaries, they will not benefit. To benefit from concessions for fuel and pick-ups, miners have to be fully tax-compliant.
At the associations bi-monthly meeting yesterday, the executive asked non-compliant members to check with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to begin the process of becoming compliant. At the same time, the association has begun to lobby the government for a tax amnesty.
GGDMA Vice-President Andron Alphonso, speaking with reporters, explained that tax compliance is necessary for miners to benefit from the tax exemptions and a lot of miners in the industry are not tax compliant.
He noted that the association is presently encouraging miners to become tax compliant even as they lobby for a meeting with Minister Jordan to discuss a possible amnesty for those miners who are not tax compliant.
According to Alphonso, some sort of amnesty is necessary if the entire industry is to benefit from the exemptions.
“We requested this concession not to just benefit a small percentage of the industry but the entire industry,” he said. “If we could get amnesty, we could get a lot of the smaller guys to benefit,” he added.
This is also expected to boost the negotiating capacity of the GGDMA.
“We have to negotiate prices for fuel, so if we just have a handful of people who could get the duty-free price then we won’t get a good price. We are looking to get a lot more people in so that we could get the best deal for the industry,” Alphonso said.
Asked about the proposed terms of the amnesty, he said that the mining association is open to discussions and “wants to see what the minister suggests” before they proceed.
Alphonso noted that GGDMA’s executive has requested a meeting with Jordan through the President as well as through the minister with responsibility for the industry, Raphael Trotman. They are still awaiting a response.