Oct 10, 2015 News
– to develop new national policy
Government has announced a review of concessions granted over time to miners as part of the reforms for the sector.
The move is likely to win the applause of local operators who have been complaining bitterly about a
level playing field.
According to Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, who has responsibilities for natural resources, the review seeks to ensure that mining interests are in conformity with the laws and regulations governing the sector.
Minister Trotman made it clear that it is not the intention of the Government, during the review, to look at everything with a suspicious eye and “to say that all concessions were given out in wrong or corrupt ways, but certainly as we are responding to complaints, we will do so (that is, proper reviews).”
Trotman acknowledged that there have been complaints from persons in mining communities, and he is working along with the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs to have those addressed.
“So this is why a meeting is planned between the Department of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, so that we have one Government policy on Amerindian lands, mining, and forestry. Even as you unveil new towns and townships, we’ve got to have one plan, not several different plans around,” Minister Trotman stated during a recent interview with the Government news agency.
Minister Trotman added that no mining rights will be given on land occupied by Amerindians. ”However, there is nothing to stop Amerindians themselves from mining within those lands, or as has been the case, they are free to enter into bilateral arrangements with persons or companies, to mine on their land, but the GGMC (Guyana Geology and Mines Commission) is not allowed to give out permits either to prospect or to mine in any such area, without the consent of the Amerindian community.”
The issue of concessions to especially foreign investors has been a burning one for local miners who have been demanding they receive concessions too.
Foreign investors like Canada-owned Guyana Goldfields and others have reportedly been granted tax holidays and duty free concessions on vehicles and heavy equipment, spares and other critical inputs like fuel.
Some miners have complained that heavy equipment granted under concessionary arrangements for one sector is used unfairly to compete against them.
The local mining body, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) has been asking for similar concessions, especially fuel.
GGDMA has been insisting that it, too, has over time invested billions of dollars in the local economy with the monies remaining right in Guyana.
Concessions to foreign investors have been a hot button topic with the current administration criticizing it while it was in the opposition. It was felt that the concessions were exorbitant in many cases with little mechanisms to determine exactly what Guyana was receiving in return.
Concessions for investors are nothing new for countries seeking to attract foreign direct investments.
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