The Gold and Diamond Miners’Association and the Guyana Women Miners Association have officially written President David Granger requesting a meeting with the groups to discuss the new tax regime for the industry.
In a letter published in yesterday’s edition of Kaieteur News, the miners said, “Your Excellency, on behalf of Miners throughout Guyana, we at the GWMO and the GGDMA have been mandated to request an urgent meeting with yourself, and while we appreciate your busy schedule, our members feel that for an industry that is currently recognized as the economic driver of our country, we are certain you can find the time within the next two weeks to meet.”
The two organisations urged the President to rethink the tax strategy, which in their opinion is going to squeeze the life out of the industry. The miners made it clear that they will not accede to conditions imposed upon the industry where there has not even been the courtesy of prior consultation.
“Surely, after almost 30 years of miners operating under the established tax code it makes logical sense that the main stakeholders of the industry have some input on the changes that will affect their pocket and family’s livelihood.”
The miners added that they cannot abide by the return of high-handed decisions being imposed upon the industry. According to the two associations, the impractical measures will drive persons away more than it will retain.
“Our industry has always benefitted from consultation before activation, now there is a new order. We all know that pressure on the sector will see lower production rather than increased declarations. The impact on the support sector and hence the economy will be staggering. We pray that this does not happen.”
Further, the miners said that they believe a number of the technocrats appointed to govern the industry and make changes to its future have little first-hand experience in what it actually takes to be a miner in Guyana.
“We do not believe that they truly appreciate the myriad of factors and variables that change on a daily basis in the interior that affects the cost and manner that small and medium scale operators conduct their operations.”
The two groups commended the Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority Godfrey Statia with whom they had met as being a practical person whose judgement and discretion may serve him well in addressing issues regarding acceptable documentation of cost related to the industry.
However, despite this, the miners do not believe that the employees of the GRA are capable of executing their duties in such a manner as it relates to reviewing miners’ records.
“They will apply cookie cutter methods of revenue collection and taxation that is not applicable to our industry. Additionally, the fact that there seems to be the adoption of an erroneous “text book” analysis of how gold production is done in Guyana which will now be used to measure our output is going to create hellish conflicts.”
As such, the mining groups told the President that they are extending an invitation to Minister of Finance Winston Jordan and the GRA Head to join them on a visit to the interior so that they can get a first-hand understanding about the industry which “they are about to tax into oblivion.”
Last Friday, the GGDMA was mandated by its membership to request a meeting with the President to discuss the new tax regime which will be applied to the industry. The miners had met with Minister Jordan and Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman with the GRA Head on a previous occasion. However, according to the GGDMA, that meeting was derailed by a rogue group of miners.
The issues which the miners wish to address are the increase in tributors’ tax from 10 per cent to 20 per cent, the payment of two per cent at source plus the additional filing of income taxes at year end, the need to keep proper books and daily records; other changes to the Tax laws; VAT exemption on heavy duty equipment; increase difficulty in small miners accessing existing concessions and improving roads and other infrastructure for mining areas.
The miners have decided that if the President fails to meet within the two week timeframe, they will organise themselves to conduct a countrywide protest to have their voices heard.
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