[www.inewsguyan.com] – In a bid to crack down on smuggling of gold and ensure that all produce is declared, the Government says it will be looking to “review and assess” the amount of gold miners in Guyana.
Governance Minister, Raphael Trotman made the point on Monday, November 30, at the reopening of the Bartica office of the Guyana Gold Board (GGB). The office was closed in early 2014 following reports of rampant gold tampering, fleecing the economy out of billions.
Trotman stated that thousands of ounces of gold leave Guyana every week and little or none of the gold is declared. As such, the reopening of the office is vital to the protection of the State’s patrimony.
“There are too many reports of illicit activities, gold being transported across the borders in the nights and so on… and so the reopening [of] this office with the enhanced security is what is needed,” the Minister said.
In this regard, the APNU+AFC Government will constitute a new Board for the organisation in January 2016.
“With the new mandate, which will be issued by the Board, we want to ensure that we open this office and offices in all of the various mining districts. We want to review and assess the number of licensed gold dealers and traders to see how many we have and how it relates to our gold declarations, we want synergy between concessions granted, the production of miners and their declarations because often times, they have concessions but their declarations are not what it should be,” he said.
In addition, the Minister said that the GGB will be working to ensure that a closer relationship is developed between and among agencies such as the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU) and the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU).
The plan also includes a strengthened legal framework to ensure that the government and people of Guyana are the beneficiaries of the sale and trade of gold exported, he said.
Trotman noted that the closure of the office has had an adverse impact on the mining community and as such a decision was taken to revamp and reopen the office particularly since the community will soon be established as a town.
“Government has taken the decision to reopen this office as a sign of confidence in the township of Bartica and to ensure greater flows of revenue to the national coffers,” Trotman said.
Meanwhile, Lisaveta Ramotar, General Manager of the GGB, said the Bartica office was not reopened only to increase declarations but also to stimulate the economy in the planned township.
“The Bartica office brings in almost, if not a bit less of declarations as the one in Georgetown. And so when we are able to bring in all of this revenue, not only does it cater for the provision of social services and infrastructural development but it is an economic stimulant,” she said.