Natural Resources Stakeholders applaud transformative budget measures

Stakeholders within the Natural Resources Sectors welcome the recent transformational emergency budget measures announcement by the President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana His Excellency, Dr. Irfaan Ali and the subsequent presentation of the said budget by the Minister with responsibility for Finance, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill earlier today.

The budgetary support to the Natural Resources Sectors resulted from a wide range of consultations led by the Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Vickram Bharrat M.P., which included a team from the Guyana Forestry Commission, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Guyana Gold Board and the Department of Energy. The consultations saw discussions with the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Associations, Guyana Women Miners’ Association, Forest Producers Association, small loggers and miners among other stakeholders.

The aforementioned civic engagement resulted in stakeholders welcoming the strategic measures outlined below:

  1. Removal of VAT and duties on machinery and equipment for the recapitalization of key sectors such as mining and forestry.
  2. Tax concessions on ATVs for mining and forestry
  3. Log Export policy amended to allow small loggers/saw millers to export logs.
  4. $1.5B for Hinterland, Urban and Rural Roads.
  5. Removing the requirement to register and take out road licence for mining equipment.
  6. Removing the requirement for Police Clearance for miners to transport fuel in their vehicle. 
  7. Removal of VAT on Hinterland Travel
  8. 50 new 4X4 Vehicles to support security, including in the hinterland

These measures are set to significantly restore productivity and growth to the sectors, particularly, with the removal of VAT and Duties on machinery and equipment to allow the re-tooling and re-capitalization of the industries. Further, the removal of taxes from hinterland travels will reduce operational cost, hence yielding higher profitability.

The allocation of $1.5 billion for the upgrade of hinterland roads is most welcome, since the maintenance of these infrastructure were neglected under the previous administration. This will no doubt increase production in the mining and logging sectors and reduce operational costs significantly.

Notwithstanding this, security remains a key issue within the sector, and as such, the procurement of 50 new 4X4 vehicles to support security in the hinterland bodes well. The Ministry and by extension the Government of Guyana understands that a security presence will ease tension and facilitate a smooth flow of legal mining and forestry operations. Finally, with the Log Export Policy being amended the industry’s production and revenues will ultimately be boosted, allowing small loggers and saw millers to meaningfully contribute to exports.

In addition to the measures above, Minister Bharrat welcomes the approval of a GYD$350 million by the President of Guyana to immediately support the cash strapped Guyana Forestry Commission to pay backlogged salaries and manage operational expenditure.

Minister Vickram Bharrat specified that the identified measures resulted from the series of engagements with all stakeholders and the various regulatory agencies will bring the sectors back into active production following neglect and mismanagement from the previous administration. The Minister reinforces the commitment of his Ministry to continue engaging all stakeholders to discuss medium to long term plans to build resilience and sustainability.

In this sense, the Minister conveys his appreciation on behalf of the stakeholders in the natural resources sector to His Excellency, the President Dr. Irfaan Ali, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo and the Government of Guyana for the strategic and timely incentives which will see the natural Resources Sectors’ revival.