Ministry engaging UK firm on regulatory system for gold industry

Team AXIS Guyana: Colin Bascom, John Venpin and Charles Beresford

A United Kingdom-based company, Focus Link Ltd is currently engaging the Ministry of Natural Resources in discussions aimed at the realization of “an enduring solution” to the multi-faceted compliance and regulation challenges plaguing the gold-mining sector.

Stabroek Business understands that in recent days a three-member Focus Link team has been engaging Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman in discussions that could lead to the installation of a hi-tech system that will shore up the integrity of the sector’s regulatory regime.

What is being termed a Content Management System (CMS), AXIS Guyana, as the project is titled, is being spearheaded by a lead project team comprising Guyanese-born, London-based Accountants Colin Bascom and Charles Beresford and Information Technology Specialist John Venpin, Founder and Managing Director of the UK-based web development company Marylebone Design.

The system will seek to support statutory agencies in compliance-related issues and once implemented will include among its statutory users the Guyana Geology & Mines Commission (GGMC), the Guyana Gold Board (GGB), the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Bank of Guyana, the Financial Intelligence   Unit, the State Assets Recovery Unit and the Special Organised Crime Unit.

Listed among the key benefits of the CMS are its capacity to create a one-stop shop that brings users, regulators and related agencies together under a regime that requires all statutory users to set up their profiles and submit periodic returns and which enables regulators to monitor and quickly flag submitted data.

The system will also bring a greater measure of transparency and accountability to the industry and include the ability to quickly provide data on mining operations in order to enable more efficient monitoring of land use and production activity. The CMS also boasts a capacity to provide real time data and prompt delivery of reports in order to improve compliance management and revenue collection.

Additionally, the system reportedly has a capacity to support data input and access anytime and anywhere in the world utilizing laptop or desktop devices or smartphone applications. Additionally, the CMS allows for prompt receipt and processing of submitted data in order to facilitate report production and special investigations.

AXIS Guyana will bring together key participants within a CMS that will be equipped with built-in controls designed to regulate the level of access for each participant as well as to mitigate the potential for fraudulent manipulation of data once it has been entered. Restricted access arrangements will ensure protected access to entered data while submitted data can be retrospectively adjusted only through a separate input routine. A Central Administrator will be responsible for maintaining the integrity of input data and providing periodic reports and updates on regulatory and compliance issues.

CMS files will include information on a range of issues including client profiles, production, sales, purchases, exports, mining operations including issues relating to crews, health and safety, certification and reporting on accidents and incidents.

Envisaged as the service provider linking users and statutory agencies within a system that allows for continuous real-time processing AXIS Guyana, Stabroek Business has learnt, seeks, for the first time, to bring together both users and regulators on a single platform with a view to providing a single service for recording user profiles and periodic returns. The submission format and frequency will be determined by the statutory agencies and will see data continually uploaded on production, mining operations, mining health and safety matters and for the trading/bartering and exporting of gold. The design will enable a capacity to store and collate a range of data gathered from production, sales and operations and provide a global view of mining activity.

Stabroek Business understands that the current engagement was preceded by a comprehensive review of the current regulatory arrangements in the sector which concluded that the industry is plagued with a culture of non-compliance and significant regulation-related weaknesses in the sector. Mining sources have told this newspaper that these problems are systemic and extend across the spectrum of the sector to include gold miners, traders and statutory regulatory agencies. A key challenge, according to sources in the sector is a chronic lack of effective coordination and information-sharing amongst the statutory agencies and the absence of a coordinated approach to the execution of the regulatory functions resulting in significant revenue losses.

AXIS Guyana, Stabroek Business understands, will seek to deliver a cloud-computerized system that utilizes cutting edge technology supported by smart phone apps which will be made available to miners, traders and exporters free of cost. The service will be delivered by AXIS Guyana personnel.

AXIS Guyana team member Beresford told Stabroek Business that the service seeks to link all users and statutory agencies within a system that allows for continuous recording and real time data processing.