GGDMA commends Government’s budgetary measures
– cites sector-wide relief
The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), today, commended the Dr. Irfaan Ali led Government for the 45 measures that will be included in the Emergency Budget, noting that those intended for the mining sector will have a transformative effect on small, medium and even large scale miners.
During a meeting with His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Vickram Bharrat at State House, the executives of the Association were able to raise other pressing matters and have them addressed.
The Executive members following the meeting noted that while there are some other measures they would like to see put in place, the action taken by the Government cannot be overlooked or dismissed as insignificant. The members noted that every miner in the industry is grateful and can now begin to breathe a sigh of relief.
Mr. Terry Singh, proprietor of Japarts and executive member of the GGDMA, said that the Government’s announcements must be applauded. Mr. Singh said this is the first time in the history of Guyana that he has seen such relief measures for all sectors just one month of an administration taking office.
“The initiative that the President and his Cabinet took yesterday was fantastic. They gave a lot of relief to the sector by giving back to the mining community, the duty free for moving machinery like excavators, bull dozers, et cetera which are needed. From the entire Association and on behalf of the entire community, we welcome that and we see the initiative that the Government is taking to ensure that all the sectors play a key role in the development of the country. The vision I have seen and the attention the President gave to the sector, I have never seen it before from any President or Government,” he said.
Mr. Hilbert Shields, Vice President of the GGDMA, in an invited comment said the benefits that would be derived from these measures should not be underestimated. The Vice President noted that the tax breaks and removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on machinery and equipment would go a long way in restoring productivity and growth for the sector.
“As you know, mining is an extractive industry and you have inputs that you put in to generate revenue. The Budget reflected a number of measures that removed taxes from inputs. So, when you don’t have tax on inputs, more of it goes into production so you get more of the benefits back. So, when you see the removal of VAT on equipment which miners have to spend money on, instead of buying one and a half pieces of equipment because of the taxes, they can now buy two [or three] and that is reflected in all of your costs. The reduction of taxes in hinterland transportation directly impacts us. The monies that go toward roads will impact our costs. So, those measures we welcome,” he noted.
Mr. Shields noted that these measures were advocated for by the Association and it is pleasing to note that they have been fulfilled in such a short space of time.
“We advocated for them. They were promised in the Manifesto and we are glad to see the Government have fulfilled them. The President is very familiar with the industry and he is ahead of us. We wanted to raise issues with regard to the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and it turns out that there were three Restructuring Reports and he has read all three of them. So, he is even ahead of us in that regard,” the GGDMA’s Vice President added.
Mr. Andron Alphonso, President of the GGDMA said the Association is pleased with the response by the Government and the Head of State.
Aside from the measures, Mr. Alphonso said President Ali demonstrated leadership in the meeting at State House by making decisions on the spot and looking at solutions to some of the issues raised.
“Given the current state of the economy [and] given the current state of the nation with the pandemic, we are heartened that the Government has kept its promise to the mining sector and we know that more can be done but at a later time. One of the things I appreciate is that it was a very frank engagement and we have already set some plans in place. That is what I appreciate. The President has already taken some decisions to address our issues so it is not just us coming and sit down and talk. We have already started to get the ball rolling and to help us work in a more conducive manner. It was an action meeting and that it what we appreciate,” he expressed.
Following the meeting today, President Ali has asked Minister Bharrat to meet with the Association over the next two weeks to hold further discussions and find solutions to some of the issues raised during today’s meeting.