(Editor’s note: Stabroek News has agreed to carry occasional columns from the Guyana Gold Board on matters of public interest. )

The Guyana Gold Board is on the move.  The directorate and management have decided not to sit and wait passively.  There is refusal to contribute to circumstances that imperil the wellbeing of both its operations and that of this nation.

On a comparative basis, the quantity of gold coming to the Gold Board has declined.  Consistent reports and intelligence are that activities in the mining sector and the corresponding production levels do not match the amounts being declared at the Gold Board locations.  In other words, the gold is going somewhere else.  Accordingly, the decision and commitment were made, with the appropriate clearances, to go out into the field and meet the mining constituency in their realm of operations.  To move closer to the point of discovery.  If the gold cannot come to the Gold Board, then the Gold Board will move and go to where it is found.  It is a start.

In so doing, the Gold Board is being proactive and extending a service to the lesser served in the sector.  The Gold Board is expending energy and scarce resources to address a shortfall in its projections, establish a meaningful and honest presence, and embark upon a possible wide-ranging arc of presences and efforts.  The priorities are twofold: buy the gold, as mandated by the law, and reach those mining sector communities that are in need of a consistent and trusted presence; a presence that seeks to fulfill the interests of those who have complained about being underserved, taken advantage of, and left to their fate.

As was expected, and since experienced, this move to meet the miners in their locales has not met with universal warmth.  Almost immediately, there were claims and complaints that the Gold Board was entering into competition with long established players, and that there was no need for those who had been authorized, by the state no less, to engage in the business of buying gold and declaring the same to the Gold Board.

This much has to be said, and said right from the inception: nothing could be more distant from the truth.  The Guyana Gold Board has zero interest in competing with others; zero interest in taking away business from others; and zero interest in removing others from mining spheres of operations.  It is worth repeating: the sole visions and objectives of the Gold Board are to: 1) provide a much-needed service, as substantiated by its own research; 2) establish and maintain a presence in those areas where there are either minimal or no other official buying presences; and 3) to increase its declarations and bring in more foreign exchange to the nation’s treasury.  It goes without saying, that the actions of the Gold Board seek to achieve two other things: a) provide the mining community with an avenue to sell mineral production to a legitimate source; and b) to keep the sale of such gold within the borders of Guyana.  Thus far, the response has been encouraging.

Another area in which the Gold Board is intent on moving towards is the sealing of shipments of gold declared for export at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.  The process has begun and there has been ongoing interest and unflagging commitment, at the highest governmental levels, in moving to this sealing reality as soon as possible.  The combined knowledge, expertise, and wisdom of vigilant overseers-local and foreign-have recommended, in fact insisted and demanded that sealing at CJIA become the norm and standard.  Numbered among these providing such insights and guidance are longstanding and reputable security entities and couriers; governmental agencies responsible for and dedicated to the fight against money laundering, drug trafficking, financing of terrorism, and smuggling in general, but of gold in particular.  After all, it is a depleting asset; and there is the general consensus that many known (and more unknown) forces and channels are being marshalled and utilized to drain away the gold production in Guyana, of which a significant part does not make its way to the Gold Board. Again, there has been concerted objections and resistance to this pending move.  They are being worked through; they have to be managed and overcome, since almost all of the rationales tendered fly in the face of acceptable and robust practices, realities, and an increasingly interconnected foreign surveillance architecture.  Current local conduct causes alarms and brings considerable, if not grave, exposures to Guyana.

The final movement touched upon today is also physical in nature.  The Gold Board has engaged a number of agencies-public and private-to partner with and guide on designing and delivering a modern facility to house its operations.  Of necessity, the going has been careful and deliberately so.  No corner will be cut; and all procedures observed.  All related processes and people must meet the highest standards of compliance with internal expectations, as well as those of any other regulatory bodies that set benchmarks as to what has to prevail.  The directorate and management of the Gold Board has one overriding priority: to build, to build right, and to build an edifice that will be ready to greet the 22nd century.  It must be safe, healthy, and also gleam as to an expression of the wealth of this nation.

The Guyana Gold Board has initiated bold moves in these three directions.  It has to stay the course, set the tone, and succeed for the benefit of the whole nation.

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