“We are not here to divide” -Minister Broomes defends syndicate project

GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The syndicate project is a transparent initiative to meet the needs of all miners in the industry, Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources Simona Broomes clarified.

Representatives of the nine syndicates formed in Minister Broomes office

“It’s a clear initiative from government to meet the needs of the miners. We promised that good life. This is a government of unity; we are not here to divide miners; we are looking at a sector and the sector has miners at all levels,” Minister Broomes told the media from her Kingston, Georgetown office.

Today, upset small miners from nine of the newly formed syndicates visited Minister Broomes to voice their ire over claims made by the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) in an article in today’s Stabroek News.

In the article, the GGDMA questioned Minister Broomes’ motive behind the syndicate project, and accused the government of trying to “divide and rule the miners”. The GGDMA also cautioned small miners to ensure they are not being used as “pawns” and even asserted that “some well-known raiders are now at the forefront of the recently formed syndicates.”

Minister Broomes, who has lead responsibility for the syndicate project, has been travelling across the country promoting the initiative. The Minister explained that the syndicate project was developed after the Ministers of Natural Resources met with miners in January 2016.

Small miners had pointed out the difficulty in the upkeep of the operation by themselves even if they were provided lands, “So coming out from that, we made a decision that we will look at another area where they will be able to benefit in clusters,” Minister Broomes explained. The Minister said the response to syndicate has been “overwhelming”.

A bite of the pie

The group of small miners that met with Minister Broomes today told the media they were grateful for the syndicate since it afforded them “a bite of the pie” in the mining industry.

Renwick Solomon, Chairman of the 14 Mile Syndicate, stressed that the syndicates are not in competition with the GGDMA. “We’re not

Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes

trying to take their place. All we’re doing is trying to give ourselves an opportunity in the mining industry,” Solomon said.

Solomon contended that there are a large number of small miners with parked dredges because they do not have land to work. “This is a bread and butter issue; this is not an issue of politics and trying to take anybody’s position. All this is about is to have a fair share of the resources in this country,” Solomon said.

President of the Karrau Mining Syndicate, Judy Davis, pointed out that small miners have been struggling for decades with the main concern being the acquisition of lands to work. “I want Guyana to know…with the syndicates today the first and foremost thing that will be taken care of is job creation,” Davis said.

Davis said she was surprised by the GGDMA’s accusation of division in the industry when members of the GGDMA are also part of a syndicate. “How come that syndicate did not bring a division in mining?” Davis questioned.

Davis added that the syndicate project is “a positive direction” for the industry since it demonstrates transparency and the government’s commitment to fulfilling its promises to all miners.

Wallace Daniels of the Imbaimadai Mining Syndicate said he does not understand why the GGDMA is attacking the syndicates, but assured that the initiative is the most effective towards addressing the concerns of small miners.

“What I think is happening is that for the first time miners are seeing that you stand a chance as good as anybody else if given the opportunity…and maybe that is why the people who controlled everything…maybe they see that they are not going to do that now,” Daniels said.

Tax measures

Meanwhile, addressing the tax measures that have been applied to the mining industry, Minister Broomes said they are not meant to impede the development of the industry. The GGDMA is contending that the new tax measures will obstruct growth in the industry and lead to reduced gold declarations.

The new tax measures were announced in the 2017 National Budget. Those measures include requirement of miners to keep records of transactions, increase in tributor’s tax from 10 percent to 20 percent and the payment of a two percent tax and the requirement of all miners to file their income tax returns.

Despite meeting with the Minister of Finance and the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), the GGDMA maintained that the bodies do not understand the industry and regulating it would be difficult. “In no way (the) government want to impose or to make life difficult for anyone,” Minister Broomes said in defence of the new measures.

The GRA head had promised miners that a booklet explaining the new tax measures and its application and benefits will be made available to all operatives in the industry.  According to Minister Broomes, small miners were provided with the booklet and no complaints or issues have arisen to date.

 

By: Tiffny Rhodius

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