GGDMA outraged at constraints to miners

reminds Govt sector has been steering economy

The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) has said it remains outraged at the treatment being meted out to local miners, particularly by the new tax regulations imposed, and has reminded that while there are other sectors failing, it is the contributions of the mining sector that have been keeping the country’s economy “afloat”.

According to the GGDMA in a Friday statement, after the 2017 National Budget was passed, it became burdened with several concerns regarding the new tax regulations, among which was the keeping of acceptable records. The body says that all of its operations are done in the interior locations, where receipts and bills are often not obtainable, especially from service providers. Thus the association is requesting that tributors be able to benefit from this threshold provision at the time that they are paid, where a provision can be made by the operation owner to deduct the 20 per cent Tributors’ tax after the person has earned in excess of the $60,000 on a monthly basis. This would allow the Tributors to immediately start benefiting from this provision.

Additionally, the GGDMA is requesting that there be a reduction of the 40 per cent rate of tax on the chargeable income of miners.

In regard to the off-the-top payment of five per cent Royalty to the GGMC along with the two per cent upfront withholding tax, the GGDMA feels that a provision can be made for payments to be made at a lower tax rate for miners, and/or alternatively a sliding scale against the US dollar off-the-top.

The GGDMA is also suggesting that the deadline for filing of returns be extended from April 30 to a convenient later date, given that many miners would need to make adjustments so as to comply with the new requirements.

The GGDMA said it continues to be frustrated by the manner in which the GGMC is conducting its business, and feels the GGMC needs to be modernised as soon as possible. Providing simple information requested from this agency seems to be an uphill task for the agency, the GGDMA has said.

“One would expect that, with all the royalty that is being collected, a modern information management system would be in place at this agency, (but) this is far from the case. Simple information requested, which in this information technology era could take minutes, sometimes takes hours (and) even days (to be supplied),” the GGDMA has said.

“One is left to ask the question: Is the current manner in which the GGMC (is) operating reflective of the fact that there is currently no board in operation at the GGMC? This seems to be the case, because ad hoc decisions are being made on PL Conversion, while there seems to be no proper management of mining affairs. The GGDMA is equivalently concerned that there is no board in place at the Guyana Gold Board [GGB]. Issues such as refunds for “silver money” for last year remains a point of concern for the association,” the GGDMA said on Friday.

The body pointed to the poor condition of roads that miners traverse and noted that nothing is being done by the relevant Ministries to address the matter. “This has severely affected transportation and operations costs to our many miners, who now have to pay double the price for transporting fuel to their operations. In addition, the Interior Road Projects hardly cater for the building and maintenance of bridges. The GGDMA also wishes to point out that, currently, most of the interior access roads have bridges that are in a deteriorating state”.

The GGDMA has also said that security concerns have been an ongoing issue for its members, where miners are being robbed due to the many illegal shops around mining camps.

The mining representative body says it is open to meet with the relevant authorities to address these and many other issues that are affecting its membership and the sector as a whole.