by Zena Henry
The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) on Friday welcomed government’s announcement that it would be fulfilling its 100 day promise to small miners by waiving duties on fuel, tools and small scale mining equipment.
“We are very pleased. We have been asking for these things for a long while but we haven’t seen the list but it is understandable that government just cannot go about reducing this source of revenue,” GGDMA Administrative Officer, Colin Sparman told Demerara Waves Online News.
The association has expressed grave concern that if the price- currently US$1,089 per ounce- continues to plummet, heavily indebted small and medium scale miners would continue to lose their equipment and properties that they had put up as collateral to invest in the sector.
The announcement was made by Finance Minister Winston Jordan Friday August 7, just days before he is scheduled to present government’s financial statement on Monday, August 10, 2015. The government made some 21 commitments to be fulfilled within 100 days of them being in office; some of which would be reflected in the 2015 Budget.
Although, Jordan has been relatively guarded about what he has planned for Guyana, he said a great percentage of the promises would be fulfilled, with those requiring the input of an uncooperative opposition still in limbo.
However, stating that any concession to miners is only that promised in the 100 day agenda, the promise was that the small miners would see, “Waiving of duties on fuel, tools and small scale mining equipment, bought by identifiable holders of small concessions.”
The small miners had complained bitterly under the previous administration that there were minimal provisions which allowed them to grow in their business. Some of them had claimed that they were being sidelined for larger and foreign companies.
They had urged this government to make provisions for them and pressured the idea since the fall in gold prices, a commodity that significantly stimulated the economy.
Guyana Gold and Diamond Association (GGDMA) President Patrick Harding and his team met with President David Granger and his team last week to discuss ways to aid the struggling sector. Harding asked the government to explore concessions to support the reduction of production costs for mining operations to aid miners following gold price decline.
Their main concerns were concessions on the import taxes and duty on fuel which will immediately bring assistance to the industry. They also spoke of impassable roads particularly during the rainy season.