Business community commends Natural Resources outreach programme

GINA, GUYANA, Thursday, April 27, 2017

The local business community has commended the Ministry of Natural Resources’ outreach programme saying it bodes well for future engagements between the government and private sector.

A section of the business community present at the briefing

Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman on Wednesday evening presented his Ministry’s advancements in the natural resources sector at the Umana Yana, Kingston, Georgetown.

The briefing is part of the Ministry of Natural Resources’ national outreach programme for the year. The presentation was well received by the private sector.

“I’d like to commend the Ministry of Natural Resources and by extension the government on this outreach programme. I think this is the type of thing players in the Private Sector have been calling for and spells well for the future of collaboration and consultation,” Executive Director of representatives, including the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Kirk Hollingsworth said.

Trotman shared the Ministry’s achievements in 2016 and future plans with the private sector representatives.  The Ministry of Natural Resources has oversight responsibility for the mining and quarrying, forestry and the oil and gas industries.

Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman

“After this engagement we hope to meet with each of your organisations individually to further the discussions,” Minister Trotman told the businesses and stakeholder representatives that were present at the briefing.

Other representatives present had queries on the emerging oil and gas sector, particularly energy generation. President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GSMA) Shyam Nokta noted that the potential of generating energy using natural gas will mitigate one the biggest challenges in the manufacturing sector.

“It is something that would be very welcomed,” Nokta said as he asked for more information on the government’s decision on the use of natural gas.

Minister Trotman noted that the government is still determining how to use the natural gas but ascertained that the gas will be coming to shore. “Do we send it solely for industry? Send it towards alumina or refining? or do we do a mix? That decision has not yet been made but it will be,” the Minister said.

Questions were also raised about skills development in the new sector. Clinton Williams who chairs the boards of the Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council and the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) warned of “fly by night” trainers and institutions touting certification of skills in the oil and gas sector.

“As the body responsible for accreditation and certification…our intention is to ensure that there is some kind of order as it relates to the certification…of skills in the sector,” Williams cautioned.

Minister Trotman acknowledged that the government will have to guard against “these fly by night things.” The Minister added that he is looking forward to working with Williams to ensure that this problem is adequately addressed.

Meanwhile, George Bulkan of Bulkan Timber Works raised concerns about the 14 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) that was introduced to the forestry sector effective this year. Bulkan questioned what measures will be put in place to “lessen the effect” of the impact of the VAT on an already struggling industry.

Minister Trotman pointed out that the government is looking at incentives such as concessions on fuel, spares and new equipment and machinery. The Ministry itself is exploring restricting the importation of pinewood, “But I’m not going to that without the consultation of importers because they have a right to be heard,” the Minister stated.

The government is open to reviewing all taxes in time for the 2018 budget, Minister Trotman pointed out.

By: Tiffny Rhodius


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