A promise by President Donald Ramotar to help small miners acquire lands for their operation after he is elected has come in for scathing criticisms by the Opposition.
Yesterday the APNU+AFC coalition described it as pure elections gimmickry.
“Here is a man who is the President, the most powerful man in the country, promising to deliver something that he has the power to do right now.
He wants miners to wait until elections are over and is asking them to vote him back in. Does he think people are stupid?”
“This is the man who promised to revisit the Value Added Tax when he wasn’t yet president. He promised to review the radio frequencies distribution; he promised to put a clamp on corruption and he promised local government elections within a year.”
The comments were made yesterday by Alliance For Change (AFC) leader, Khemraj Ramjattan.
Over the weekend, President Ramotar, during a campaign rally in the Essequibo River community of Bartica, spoke of the need to strengthen the various sectors, including the Mining sector.
He promised to ensure that “small miners have an opportunity to get their lands to do mining and more than that, we will review some of the large holdings that many of the ‘big people’ had and (are) not using them.”
Small miners have been clamouring for lands and have accused the authorities of favouring mostly big miners in their allocation system.
This has led to what is called landlordism – where big miners charge a rent, as much as $3M a month, for small operators to operate, and even a percentage of their takes.
There have been growing complaints that these “landlord” big miners even evict the small operators when there is a significant find.
As gold prices on the world market crashed to a four-year low over the last year, several miners pulled out. They cited high costs and big miners taking advantage.
Yesterday, Ramjattan said that he has taken note of the President’s promise.
“It is an absolute gimmick to get the votes of the small miners. Donald Ramotar has now realized that he has deserted the ordinary people on the ground that would need a piece of land to ensure their survival.
“He went with the big land owners and is now paying the price. It is just a gimmick to get their votes at this very late hour.”
According to Ramjattan, the Opposition has received several complaints from miners who “are so disgusted and frustrated that they are not having any chance for years to earn a fair and decent living”.
“Why would they find the President’s promise credible; that he will now deliver. He is the President. Or is he saying that he is not? It is more likely an absolutely lie that he will find any lands for them. It is as clear as day that he is fooling the people once again. Like so many other projects.”
According to the AFC leader, small miners must understand the President’s modus operandi.
“He cares not for them – he and his administration – and he cares not for their livelihood. These small miners and their families must ensure their removal. It is the best thing that can happen for small miners. As a matter of policy- as a rebellion- they must vote them out.”
He said that small miners must not fall for the lies and his gimmicks.
“It will be more of the same. Ramotar and his administration had the power to do it. Now they are seeing the anger of the small man, they want to wait until after elections?
“Ramotar is the one that can deliver to them, why couldn’t he have delivered?”
As world prices for gold reached record level prices in recent years, miners have been cashing in. It started to fall in 2013 before reaching almost US$1200 per ounce early last year.
Gold declarations plummeted almost 100,000 ounces last year and scores of miners pulled out.
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