– tasked with tackling workers’ rights in gold, logging operations
Her courageous work to tackle the trafficking in persons (TIP) problem in hinterland communities at
a time when it was not even being acknowledged by the then Government, saw her pushed into the spotlight. So much so that the US government honored her for the work she did. It also pushed her into the spotlight of politics with the coalition, while in Opposition, sitting up and taking notice.
Today, Simona Broomes, after more than seven months as Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, has been transferred as a Minister within the Minister of Natural Resources. She will have sweeping powers to oversee a clean-up of labour problems in the gold bush and logging operations.
But her appointment has not come without some questions. Broomes has been involved in the mining business for years now, holding a number of concessions.
Her appointment last week to the Natural Resources Ministry, which oversees the mining industry, has raised questions about a possible conflict of interest situation.
During a press conference she shared yesterday with Minister Raphael Trotman at Cara Lodge, Quamina Street, Georgetown, Broomes when questioned about her links to Australian-owned mining company, Pharsalus Gold Inc, disclosed that indeed she has a long-standing agreement with it.
The company is moving to develop large scale mining operations in Issano, Region Seven.
The Minister said that she sees no conflict of interest situation as regards to her job, with the agreement with Pharsalus dating back for a number of years.
She said that when the company is ready to mine, they will have the option of buying her out or offering a deal.
Minister Trotman also said that there is no conflict of interest. He pointed out that there are other government officials and even ex-ministers who own vast properties and businesses.
In the event that transactions regarding Pharsalus come up, Trotman said he will handle it, ensuring Broomes is insulated and “kept at arm’s length”.
Trotman asserted that the gold industry is attractive enough to see every Guyanese persuaded to want to be involved. He also stated that Broomes would lend a wealth of knowledge to the natural resources sector, particularly mining.
Broomes, it was pointed out, “is a recognized champion for workers’ rights. It is the intention of this Ministry to fully utilize the Hon. Minister’s passion in areas that require active attention to curtail abuses within the Mining sector and ensure the enforcement of regulations”.
Among other things, Broomes will oversee aspects of the occupational health, safety and protection of the rights of mining workers and practitioners within the mining and forestry sectors.
She is also charged with monitoring compliance by mining workers and practitioners, of the laws and regulations within the mining and forestry sectors, among other things.
“The task ahead is tremendous and I am confident that this team with its additional support is more than capable of addressing the issues within the sector and creating an environment of which we can all benefit and be proud.
Broomes, who over recent months, has been carrying out surprise inspections including on City businesses in Berbice and at Rusal bauxite company, Region 10, said miners in Guyana can look forward to significant improvements to workers’ rights.
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