Dec 27, 2015 News
– state contracts to utilize species other than Greenheart
A longstanding problem called “landlordism” is likely to become a major item on Government’s agenda with legislations likely to address the growing problem.
Landlordism is when the persons or businesses granted land concessions for mining or logging allow others to use it for a fee or percentage of the takings.
However, in recent years, small miners and loggers have been bitterly complaining that after doing all the hard work, they are evicted for one reason or the other with the owners moving in with their equipments and reaping the rewards.
“Landlordism”, as is it widely known, is being heavily practiced with among a few big miners who with access to money and information have been using a corrupt system to acquire the concessions. The idea is to rent it to small miners.
With a loose arrangement, small miners and loggers are left with little or no protection. Few are willing to speak openly about although the complaints are rampant.
Miners, especially, are forced to buy fuel, food, spares and other supplies and in turn would have to sell their gold at less than the market price to their “landlords”.
If a big find is made, it is not unknown that the landlord miner moves in with his team of armed security and take over.
Last week, Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, who holds the responsibilities of natural resources and the environment, appeared before Parliament’s Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources. It would have been the first time that the new government would be telling a select Parliamentary Committee about its plans for the natural resources sector, which includes gold, logging, bauxite, oil and gas, and diamond mining.
According to Trotman, the issue of “landlordism” was raised even by Minister Simona Broomes, herself a miner, with calls for legislations to protect small miners.
Minister Trotman disclosed that Government has recognized the problems with the entire situation under active consideration.
If there is need for legislations, Government is more than prepare to introduce new laws.
“Certainly it is a burning cry out there. To use Guyanese term…advantage is being taken…”
Trotman, however, pointed out that the situation will not go away overnight with the stroke of a pen or legislations as it is a complex one.
Accompanying Trotman were his Permanent Secretary, Joslyn Mckenzie, and other department heads.
Chairing the select committee was the Opposition’s MP, Odinga Lumumba, with MPs Neend Kumar and Yvonne Pearson also present.
According to Pearson, miners and loggers are also complaining about access to concessions. In many cases they are forced to use roads under the control of big miners and logging companies.
Small operators need to be treated equally, MP Pearson insisted. She also raised questions about plans of the government to introduce a Lands Commission that will address ancestral plots and extensions of areas under the control of Amerindians.
The commission is expected to come into being during the first quarter of next year and has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.
According to Minister of Trotman, while the land extensions for Amerindians currently falls under the Ministry of the Indigenous People’s Affairs, the new commission will be dealing with all aspects of lands including how current extension applications will be dealt with and how future extensions are going to be handled.
With regards to ancestral lands, the Chambers of the Attorney General has written to organizations like African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA), and few others, to assist in formulating ideas.
With regards to the small loggers, Trotman said that several meetings have been held with the various associations.
“…They do have real and acute difficulties to getting to land that have good, viable species that they can cut, getting them to market and finding the market,” he said.
He said that talks are ongoing with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and Guyana Forestry Commission to have small miners more access to roads being maintained by private miners, loggers and other companies.
With regards to market, Trotman said two months ago, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure was written to asking them to consider using logs other than the popular Greenheart.
A list of the lesser used species of wood has been sent to the Ministry along with details pertaining to their applications and this is being assessed at the moment.
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