On the 6th September, Caretaker President David Granger hosted an interactive business luncheon for stakeholders of the Mining community; members of the GGDMA, GWMO and NMS were present and related a litany of woes to Granger. President of the GGDMA, Mr. Terrence Adams raised concerns about the deplorable state of the roadways which led to mining communities, and what he described as a need for more government concessions.
The GWMO president asked whether the Government would be able to render assistance to the mining industry. “How would miners be assisted? At this point, we do not have any alternatives to mercury but at the same time, we have the years that are counting down for us,” she said.
The Caretaker President also said he would welcome recommendations of solutions from the mining sector, which would be sent to him directly.
Granger explained that he was not previously aware of the issues plaguing the sector.
In 2017, Granger introduced a 2% final tax on gold production; this was changed to a sliding scale in 2018 after strong representation by the PPP in parliament. Miners now have to pay to sell gold to the Gold Board; 14% VAT applies to the industry and has not been removed, despite numerous pleas.
Miners who are not in possession of claim documents in the interior are threatened with jail. There is rampant corruption in the sector, with government cronies forming ‘syndicates’ and being allocated prime claims under most questionable circumstances. How can the President not know what the consequences of his policies are?
Granger is meeting and promising as he did before elections 2015, can anyone trust him to care after elections 2019?
Gold and Diamond mining contribute billions in hard currency to our nation’s coffers. Mining is the main pillar of our economy presently, how can Granger not know of the issues affecting production and profitability in this vital sector?
This begs the question of: what does Mr. Granger do all day? For it seems every time there is an issue within a sector, he (Granger) asserts he has no knowledge of the problem; when the issues with the ExxonMobil PSA were being discussed, Granger’s advisor on Oil, Dr. Jan Mangal, revealed that “It was ExxonMobil who told me the contract was signed, not the Government. President Granger himself seemed surprised that a new contract was already signed”.
Following this, Granger assumed responsibility for oil, or so we were told, He (Granger) promptly handed over control of the newly-created Department of Energy to Dr. Mark Bynoe, who in follow-the-leader fashion, appointed Mr. Wilks, a retired oilman to run the department, while he (Bynoe) engaged in various political activities such as talks on ‘Christian oil’.
Not to belabour the point, but here is another thing Granger does not seem to ‘know’; Declarations must be made to the Integrity Commission annually, otherwise we have no explanation for his (Granger’s) move from a small house in D’Urban Backlands to a compound that includes a mansion and other buildings in Pearl within two years of assumption of the Office of the President.
Granger knows an election can only be delayed for so long; as he temporizes, his Ministers are working for the first time in four years. One of them is visiting hinterland villages rolling out internet connectivity, but never mentions that this program was inherited from the PPP complete with US$17 Million as part of the LCDS, and never apologizes for the delay in implementation.
Amerindian titling is suddenly a priority; roads in Georgetown and on the East Coast are being fixed hastily as the election fever grips; Guyanese know that ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’ applies to this sudden flurry of care and new promises.
There are major problems within every sector of the economy; Rice, Sugar, Bauxite, and Construction are suffering a marked downturn, along with the aforementioned Gold and Diamond mining; the Teachers, Security services and Public servants are unhappy; local businessmen want a vibrant Local Content policy backed by legislation to give them at least a level playing field in the new petroleum sector.
Will Granger be meeting with all these groups for suggestions on solutions?
If so, I would suggest he not waste everyone’s time. Following the meeting described above, a prominent miner asked me for a polite way to indicate to Mr. Granger that a return to the status quo that existed when Granger assumed office, i.e. the PPP policies, would suffice to solve all of the problems now plaguing the mining industry “just undo all the new taxes and give us back the concessions we had”.
In reply, I suggested that the message will be delivered loud and clear by persons in every productive sector and the general electorate come Election Day.
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