Jan 28, 2020 News
The Cabinet of Ministers is continuing to be apprised weekly on the performance of the foreign mining companies.
“The committee is in place and we exchange information on a weekly basis. The committee would then give Cabinet a weekly report,” explained Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman over the weekend.
The committee, comprising a number of ministers and other technical officials, started work in December, as pressure came on the Government over a number of mining companies, including Rusal/Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI).
In addition to labour issues, there have been questions about what exactly Guyana was getting from the mining companies being here.
Last month, Government announced that the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Natural Resources met to discuss and strategise about ongoing matters and future developments within the gold, bauxite and manganese industries.
Specific focus was placed on the welfare of workers, the operations of foreign companies and the overall sustainability of the sector, it was explained then.
According to Trotman, the current issue that is engaging the committee is the Rusal one.
Some 142 workers were sent home last week after the Russian-controlled bauxite company claimed it is running out of the duty-free fuel that was supposed to be approved by government.
Since then, workers have blocked the Upper Berbice River, Region 10, essentially halting shipment of bauxite from the area.
“Because it is a labour matter, the Ministry of Social Protection is taking lead with the Ministry of Finance well aware…over claims by Rusal that it is not accessing duty free fuel.”
Last month, the statement by government disclosed that the Cabinet has ordered that a team of ministers and senior government officials report on the overall performance of the companies.
The Natural Resources sector has been rocked in recent months by layoffs and burning questions over the duty free concession and tax breaks the companies would have benefitted from.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, several ministers and officials from the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) met yesterday over the ongoing situation and the way forward.
While the Ministry was not specific, a short statement made it clear that the situation was important to warrant the attention of the Cabinet.
“The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Natural Resources met… to discuss and strategise about ongoing matters and future developments within the gold, bauxite and manganese industries. Specific focus was placed on the welfare of workers, the operations of foreign companies and the overall sustainability of the sector.”
Trotman chaired the meeting of the committee which included David Patterson, Minister of Public Infrastructure; Winston Jordan, Minister of Finance; Winston Felix, Minister of Citizenship; and Keith Scott, Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection.
Also at the meeting were Commissioner of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Newell Dennison and technical officers from the respective ministries.
According to the ministry, “The Committee will report to Cabinet on a continuous basis as it engages stakeholders and reviews the overall performance of companies operating within the sector.”
The decision to look closer to the operations of a number of those mining companies would have come amid deep worry.
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