GGDMA questions Govt’s intentions on disbursing concessions to small, medium scale miners

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The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association [GGDMA] has articulated that while the Government has recognised the importance of the Gold and Diamond mining sector in contributing towards Guyana’s economic growth, many of their needs, such as concessions to small and medium scale miners are being ignored.

The Association is questioning, among other things, whether the Government wants small and medium scale miners to benefit from concessions on fuel and materials utilised in the sector, since agreements were signed between the Guyana Government and tax complaint miners last year but, according to the Association, the benefits are not reaching the miners.

See full statement below:

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association [GGDMA] wishes to congratulate our small and medium scale miners for surpassing their Gold declarations in the first quarter of 2017 as compared to the same period in 2016.  All miners should be commended for continuing to play their crucial role in bolstering Guyana’s economy in this time of reduced investment and economic slowdown. The Gold mining sector continues to be the only shining beacon in our economy, without which the country would truly be in a dismal state.

Ironically while the Gold and Diamond mining sector is recognized by Government for its importance in bolstering Guyana’s Economy, many of the needs of the small and medium scale operators continue to be ignored by the powers that be.

This has brought a lot of unease to the minds of miners in recent times. Miners are hardworking risk-taking individuals, whose contributions have proven vital to the growth and development of Guyana. Despite the execution of agreements since December last year with the Government of Guyana to allow TAX COMPLIANT miners to benefit from certain welcomed concessions on fuel and materials utilized in the sector, none of these benefits have been realized by any miner to the best of the Association’s knowledge.  This is mainly as a result of bureaucratic bottle-necks experienced at the level of GGMC and other agencies.  Given that approximately over 4 months have elapsed since this agreement was executed and less than 8 months remain on the life of the agreement. These delays prompt us to ask: Does the Government of Guyana truly want small and medium scale miners to benefit from these concessions or was this agreement executed for media propaganda purposes?  We truly hope that this is not the case and await to be proven wrong.

Also, despite our efforts to educate miners on the new tax regime and their obligations to GRA, we do not believe that the majority of small and medium scale operators truly grasp what we are now faced with as regards record keeping, remittances of the higher tributor’s tax, filing of returns in 2018 etc.  We believe that many miners are operating in a “business as usual” fashion and they will not feel the brunt of their ill advised activities until they have to make up their books and file tax returns come 2018.  In light of the foregoing, the GGDMA wishes to advise all small and medium scale miners to immediately seek advice from a reputable accounting firm so that they put their affairs in order to be fully compliant with the new tax regulations imposed on miners as a result of Budget 2017.

Already the new tax regulations are creating significant hardships and chaos in the sector where mining operations endeavoring to be tax compliant have lost a significant number of their experienced and skilled workers to other operators who have chosen not to deduct the 20% tributor’s tax. Additionally, the main overarching concern remains where most if not all small and medium scale operators will find themselves in a tough spot come 2018 where “acceptable records” to justify operating expenses will not be available if requested by GRA and as a consequence many will not be able to justifiably compute their further tax payments/ lack thereof to be made to the GRA in addition to the 2% withholding tax and 5% royalty which would have already been deducted from gross sales.

The Association remains very concerned that while the small and medium scale miners are publicly recognized for their production capabilities and stalwart contribution to the economy, their genuine issues remain unaddressed by the relevant authorities.

The GGDMA is still hopeful that the Association can meet with President Granger and Senior Government functionaries to have these and other matters resolved to the mutual benefit of small and medium scale operators and the State.

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