As miners continue to agitate for measures to help them deal with a crippling drop in the world prices of gold, it appears that Government is considering a drop in fuel tax.
Members of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) said that they have been assured that priority areas affecting the industry will be addressed, as the administration has committed to working with the association to deal with these issues.
The association, the largest mining body, also disclosed that it has been assured that it will be represented on the regulatory Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).
This was following a meeting yesterday with President David Granger and several ministers to discuss the way forward.
Attending the meeting for the body at the Ministry of the Presidency were Patrick Harding, and other members. Members of Cabinet present at the meeting were Minister of State, Joseph Harmon; Minister of Business and Investment, Dominic Gaskin; Minister of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence and Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman.
According to Harding, President Granger indicated that he will stand by the commitments he made during the elections campaign.
“He noted our concerns and we are to continue discussions further with the relevant Ministers in the industry. We are going to meet early next week, where we will discuss these concerns further in order to agree on the incentives that will keep the industry alive,” he said.
Some priority areas which the GGDMA and the Government will be working to address include exploring possible concessions that can support the reduction of production costs for mining operations.
“We are looking at ways to bring down the cost of production and that hopefully will aid miners in coping with the drop in the price of gold,” Harding said. “Our main input is the price of fuel, and we are hoping that we will get concessions on the import taxes and duty on fuel which will immediately bring assistance to the industry.”
The GGDMA is also looking forward to the re-constituting of the Board of Directors of GGMC. The association has been asked to submit two names for membership on the board and have committed to doing so by today.
Another sore point for the association is the condition of access roads to mining areas.
“As you know, we are coming out of the rainy season and we have impassable roads.”
The association is calling for repairs and regular maintenance to those roads so that miners can get back to work.
In the interim, Harding said that the GGDMA will continue to purchase gold from miners at the world market price so that the effects of the decline in prices are cushioned as they await Government’s intervention.
Gold, the biggest foreign currency earner, had been breaking declaration records in recent years but fell from its high perch two years ago when world prices fell.
This year, declaration has been down at least 20 percent, with banks clamping down on operators who owe them for loans. Many miners have walked away.
Mining has fallen behind rice and sugar in terms of earnings.
GGDMA has been meeting with the previous administration and now the new coalition administration on the situation, asking for relief on the fuel tax, help with road repairs, reduction of taxes on spare parts and concessions on pickups.
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