-PPP presided over weak, ineffectual system of ensuring compliance – Minister Trotman
Amidst growing concerns over regulatory monitoring of the country’s mining and logging sectors,
Government has announced a tougher system to ensure that the country collects its dues.
A new inspection department is about to be launched and there will be no exceptions when it comes to enforcement, warned Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, yesterday.
The Minister was responding to questions about weaknesses in Government’s systems that has allowed for significant leakage of royalties and taxes from especially the two sectors, amounting to billions of dollars in losses annually to the Treasury.
In recent days, there were worrying disclosures that a controversial Chinese company and its principals have been mining but not declaring and paying its taxes and royalties.
The Minister disclosed that the finishing touches on a Compliance and Inspectorate Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources are being applied with the body to become operational shortly.
The division, he said, will monitor the work of Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), Guyana Gold Board (GGB), Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and miners and loggers to ensure strict compliance with the laws and regulations.
Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes, will take charge of the division.
According to Trotman, overtime and under the ruling of the previous government, the regulatory monitoring fell to a low, affecting collections and allowing an undesired situation.
“This year the government is improving the regulatory process which had been allowed to grow weak and ineffectual under the PPP administration.”
Trotman noted that emphasis is being placed on ensuring that mining is better monitored.
“…and so we expect more field activity by GGMC and a closer collaboration with Guyana Gold Board and GRA to ensure that revenues are received. We are not distinguishing between Guyanese, Brazilian, Chinese or Canadian companies. We expect all to abide by the mining laws, the labour laws and to pay royalties and taxes.”
This year, also, a Government statement said yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be restructured to offer a better service and improve its efficiency.
The agency, as well, will take on more of an enforcement role, according to Trotman.
He explained that in the past, the agency did not have the power to enforce regulations.
He added that officers of the EPA will be trained to become ’enforcers’ and those from the GGMC will benefit from training in compliance and monitoring at the Mining School.
In recent days, there were revelations of glaring problems within GGMC, involving the allocation of lands for mining.
There were also indications that GGMC failed in its mandate to ensure monitoring.
For example, controversial Chinese-owned, BaiShanLin Forest Development, managed to grab up a significant number of mining lands. The problem was mining activities did not see any returns for the Government of Guyana as somehow no declarations were made, although as much as 500 ounces were mined from Ekereku, Region Seven area alone.
In that area, BaiShanLin has over 26,000 acres.
Government has been insisting that it has found significant weaknesses in its tax collection systems with a lack of enforcement allowing businesses not to comply.
That is all about to change with a number of measures being introduced in the different ministries and state agencies to increase revenue collections.
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