The government will continue to offer concessions to gold and diamond miners and intends to work closely with all the stakeholders, while ensuring adherence to declaration, tax, and environmental obligations.
This announcement was made by Minister of Finance Winston Jordan during his budget presentation on Monday. According to Jordan, gold’s stellar performance in 2016 is expected to continue in 2017 with the industry maintaining its position as a key driver of economic growth.
The Minister characterized recent complaints from the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) that their concessions would be withdrawn as baseless.
GGDMA had last month accused government of “betrayal” after reporting that it had learned that a number of concessions granted to miners would be pulled
“This is the ultimate betrayal of the miners by the APNU+AFC government and will only serve to make the already difficult industry harder, if not impossible,” the GGDMA said in a statement, where it announced that it had received “highly credible” information that the current government would be rescinding all the concessions granted to miners.
It had said that Minister of Finance Jordan in his 2017 budget speech was scheduled to outline plans to remove all VAT waivers, all concessions for fuel and lubricants, all concessions for motor vehicles, all concessions on spares and parts, all concessions on tools and equipment as well as the non-renewal of fuel import licences.
These claims were quickly queried by the Natural Resources Ministry which said the Ministry of Finance was engaged in discussions regarding the concessions and other forms of support to the mining sector, including reviewing requests for renewal of the concessions.
Jordan also announced that during 2017, the Government, in collaboration with the private sector, will be working to strengthen and improve the forestry sector’s performance, by reallocation of expired concessions that reverted to the State in 2016 among other measures.
The implementation of these measures including the promotion of value-added products, and support to the private sector for the expansion and diversification of export markets is expected to aid in restoring robustness to the sub-sector, improving productivity, and reducing the vulnerability of Guyana’s economy to external shocks.
The minister stressed that the industry will continue to promote sustainable forest management principles with the Forest Training Centre Inc. set to train at least 300 loggers in various areas of sustainable forest management.
“The Government will also explore opportunities for non-timber uses such as conservation value, carbon value and non-timber forest products,” Jordan said.