Government last week tabled a Bill in the National Assembly to strengthen trading in the gold sector.
If the Guyana Gold Board (Amendment) Bill 2019 goes through, it will see miners getting more than two months to hold onto their gold, but shop owners and other having up to two weeks to report on persons they are selling supplies to, in return for payments in gold.
There will be more restrictions on how applications are made to export gold and heavier fines, jail and even seizures for any breaches when the amendments to existing laws are passed and take effect.
The illegal buying or selling of gold without a licence will attract up to $300,000 in penalties, according to proposed amendments.
Gold is the biggest foreign currency earner for Guyana but in recent years, the sector has been dogged by smuggling, under-reporting and manipulations of the trade.
This particular amendment would have seen government working hard to push through to the National Assembly.
The Bill, signed by Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman, and dated May 21, had its last round of consultations with stakeholders on Monday.
Present were representatives of the Gold Board, the ministry, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association, the mining syndicates, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Guyana Women Miners Organisation.
According to a ministry statement, the draft Bill was approved by the stakeholder before it went to Cabinet on Tuesday and then tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday.
The Explanatory Memorandum of the Guyana Gold Board (Amendment) Bill 2019 said that the new regulations seek to amend the Guyana Gold Board, Act Cap 66:01 and certain provisions of the Tax Act, Cap 80:01 in an effort to strengthen the regulating regime of the gold trade.
Under the proposed laws, there will be increased oversight responsibilities for the Gold Board when it comes to trading.
Clause 3 of the Bill amends Section 6 of the Act to extend the period within which a producer must sell to the Guyana Gold Board any quantity of gold in his possession.- this means that miners will have up to 75 days to declare their gold, up from the 28 days.
The Bill also gives persons, other than miners, up to 75 days to sell their gold to licensed traders. However, the amendment will not apply to a registered goldsmith or a dentist.
It will also not be applicable to a person who is in transit in Guyana and has in his possession gold that was not obtained in Guyana.
Clause 5 of the Bill seeks to amend the act by increasing the number of days within which a person licensed to sell, barter, or expose for sale goods at any place in the mining district.
The time to do so has moved from 10 to 14 days.
Clause 6 seeks to insert a new section into the act. “This section will provide for the making of a special application to export bars or a quantity of gold which does not exceed 2,000 ounces in a prescribed manner to the board which grants that application subject to the conditions the board thinks fit”.
With regards to punishment, the proposed amendments provide for the imposition of higher fines of $1M and $3M and imprisonment for a term of five years as a penalty for any breaches.
It is also being proposed that if any breaches are found, the gold in question can be seized. “However,” it was explained, “the amendment also provides that any gold forfeited may be recovered through summary proceedings.”
Under the amendment, application for a trading licence for gold will be made to the General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board.
The application to trade in all other valuable mineral and precious stones will continue to be made to Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.
There will also be increased in the deposits for traders’s licence but this depends where the offices are located.
If the premises of the applicant is situated in Georgetown, New Amsterdam or Bartica the deposit will increase from $5,000 to $200,000 to trade in valuable minerals only; $10,000 to $225,000 to trade in precious stones only and $15,000 to $250,000 to trade in both valuable minerals and precious stones.”
If the applicant’s premises are elsewhere, then the requirements will move from $2,500 to $50,000.
It is also being proposed that there will be an increase in the fines for which a person may be liable on summary conviction if that person sells or purchases valuable minerals or precious stones, without a licence- from $3,000 to $300,000.
“The amendment of section 58 will now provide for a goldsmith, who desires to purchase gold for the purpose of his business or trade as a goldsmith, to make an application for a licence to do so directly to the General Manager of the Gold Board instead of the Commissioner of Geological Surveys and Mines. And, the duty payable on that licence will be increased from $1,000 to $50,000.”
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