Mahdia miners lament closure of operations as Jagdeo condemns latest move as ‘unconscionable assault’

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…says President Granger should reverse Govt’s decision

A section of Mahdia’s main commercial area

Miners in Mahdia, Region 8, are up in arms over what they say is the move by the incumbent Administration to have their equipment seized and operations halted on Tuesday.

The miners also reached out to Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, who in a interview with this publication on Wednesday disclosed that his office has been contacted about the latest “unconscionable assault” on small miners by the APNU/AFC Coalition Government and has condemned the move.

Moreover, Jagdeo says he is calling on the Granger-led government to reverse the decisions it has imposed on miners in Mahdia.

The Mahdia community is largely made up of and dependent on small miners
who are already facing hardships because of harsh tax policies already imposed.

Opposition leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

According to the Opposition Leader, “This sort of callous and uncaring decision will only serve to further hurt our small miners, who have families to maintain and children to send to school….we have a Government that has done nothing to improve the fortunes of small miners or the working class, for that matter. The Ministers sit in their offices and gorge themselves on privileges using taxpayers monies, while every single day they come up with new ways to launch an assault on our working class and productive sectors.”

Jagdeo said that he expects the APNU/AFC Coalition government to try to spin the issue at hand, given that Local Government Elections (LGE) are weeks away and
campaigning by APNU and AFC is likely to start in Mahdia soon.

“So, what we can expect is that the Government will go to Mahdia and tell the small miners that the callous and anti-working class and anti-poor decisions and policies that were imposed on them were because they ‘love’ them so much; or they will find a way to blame the PPP, as always, for their own incompetence,” he said.

According to him, the Government must make an effort to ensure that the concerns of miners are addressed.

Prior to this latest development, the Opposition Leader had repeatedly called
on the incumbent Administration to not only meaningfully engage local miners,
but to also reverse several other “hardship‟ policies that have been implemented, which hurt the mining sector, particularly as it relates to the increased tax burden.

Jagdeo has also repeatedly called for Government to pay attention to the concerns of the miners, given the importance of the mining sector to Guyana’s economy, relative to employment and its contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.

The GDP performance for 2017 was a dismal 2.1 per cent.

The performance of the mining sector and quarrying sector, according to final 2017 figures, which were revised in February 2018, show that it contracted by 8.8 per cent – while it was projected to grow by 0.7 per cent.

In the latter part of August 2018, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association
(GGDMA) issued a strongly worded statement that called out the APNU/AFC Coalition
Government for its failures.

The statement said, “When the Minister of Finance takes to the media to bemoan and lament the dismal performance of the Guyanese economy, he must address the outstanding issues under his portfolio that are negatively impacting the industry and then look squarely in the face of his colleagues who, for the last four years, have mismanaged and neglected the industry which carried Guyana on its back. No one in the Government is doing anything to help miners, they are just applying pressure…there seems to be no one in charge of the mining sector and the government is yet to articulate its policy on continued mining in Guyana.

“…for more than three years now no major mining roads have been constructed and many of existing ones have been allowed to disintegrate to a state of impenetrability. Mining is surely on the down turn and the blame for this lies squarely at the feet of the current government. More than three years later, the President of Guyana is still refusing to meet with the largest private sector employer in Guyana.”

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