Presidential Candidate of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Irfaan Ali has flagged the now caretaker coalition Government for neglecting the mining sector, noting that its counterproductive policies have destroyed the once flourishing industry.
According to Ali, the neglect of the gold production and export sector is causing the industry to shrink. He also lamented on the declining and inaccurate levels of gold declaration.
“Had it not been for the two large gold mines established under the PPP/C, gold production would have been at a standstill, killing this once vibrant sector that sustained the Guyanese economy following the global financial crisis,” he posited.
Ali went on to say Guyana is becoming a conduit for smuggled gold from Venezuela and other countries. With this, he noted the country runs the risk of losing international export markets. This is further compounded by the fact that President David Granger has refused to meet the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) over the past three years, despite pleadings and begging by miners, he added.
The PPP Presidential Candidate further criticised the coalition administration for its lack of clear mining policy and framework to better manage the sector, in spite of the efforts made under the PPP/C to improve governance and security of the industry.
“The mining sector is one of the key economic drivers of our economy. Today, our miners who work to sustain developing communities are totally neglected with their true livelihood in jeopardy due to a callous and uncaring Government,” Ali asserted.
Chief among the poor policies of the APNU/AFC administration, he pointed out are the burdensome taxes that have negatively affected recapitalisation and increase transactional cost. He further mentioned the lack of inventions in infrastructure which has led to higher cost of transportation and increased cost of production.
Other areas which Ali flagged the now caretaker coalition Government over include: the removal of incentives that brought cost savings to miners and hinterland communities; leakages and favouritism in the distribution of mining properties and claims, and neglect, mismanagement and corruption.
To this end, the PPP’s Presidential Candidate outlined a few of the initiatives his party intends to pursue to revive in the industry, should it get into office at the upcoming elections.
Among these are the removal value-added tax (VAT) on hinterland travel and freight to benefit not only mining sector, but residents and communities; removal of fee imposed by the coalition Government to sell gold; removal of sliding scale imposed by Government and replace it with 2% final tax; and the removal VAT on machinery and equipment.
Moreover, Ali disclosed that a PPP administration will also support easier transportation for the mining and forestry sectors as well as communities by reducing travel time and cost. This, he explained, will be done by investing a minimum of $2 billion annually to support hinterland roads.
Additionally, he noted too that under a PPP regime, Guyanese can expect to see the establishment of a fairer and more equitable system for the distribution of mining property along with reviewing the onerous documentation required by small miners.