Last Updated on Thursday, 8 December 2016, 23:21 by Derwayne Wills
To the sound of thunderous desk-banging from government side, and silence from the opposition PPP, Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman painted the success story of his Ministry in the National Assembly this evening during the budget debates.
Guyana has earned a whopping US$740M from gold declarations which amount to 641,688 ounces, according to Minister Trotman.
Trotman said a considerable amount of that gold came from small and medium scale miners. “This is a remarkable achievement for our country,” Trotman continued, “the highest gold achievement ever in our history.”
Trotman assured the small and medium scale miners that the APNU+AFC government will “never abandon nor undermine them and their efforts.” He went on to underscore the importance of their concerns on Budget 2017 and assured he will meet with those persons concerned.
Criticism continues to mount against Budget 2017 but Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman believes the budget is like a painful vaccine taken during childhood.
“We cannot look at one budget which is just a snapshot of a period of time and be fair in our assessment without juxtaposing past budgets and the plans for the future,” Trotman warned during his budget presentation.
“This budget was not conjured up to harm the country but to heal it,” Trotman noted adding that “it was that vaccination that protected us through the duration of our lives… [and] it is painful but it is necessary, and it is going to take us well into the 21st century.”
Speaking on the sector which he supervises, Trotman said there will be a revision of the National Logging Policy which was implemented in 2009. Trotman said that policy sought to dissuade log exportation while focusing on value-added products.
The Natural Resources Minister noted there is expected to be a review of Guyana’s bauxite industry and a further review into examining the possibility of reviving an Alumina Plant in Guyana.
On forestry, Trotman noted this sector continues to be an issue since the sector did not perform as well as it ought to. The Minister expressed optimism
“Several large forest concessions have reverted to the state, so intentional and some by default,” Trotman noted adding that there were cases where investors did not abide by their agreements with the state.
“Despite challenges faced this year, we are expected to have harvested 360,000 cubic metres of logs, representing just a 15% decline from 2015 earning us US$38M to US$39M,” Trotman explained.
On petroleum, Trotman briefly mentioned there will be legislation for Petroleum Control as well as the long-touted Sovereign Wealth Fund.
He said the administration has taken concern of mining safety and environmental management and will work with international agencies to eradicate the use of mercury in mining.