Gov’t steadfast in implementing new tax measures for miners; commit to engagements

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Natural Resources Minister, Raphael Trotman is confident that the current disagreements between the mining bodies and the government will come to an amicable solution eventually.

Speaking to media operatives yesterday (Saturday, January 28, 2017), the day after miners threatened mass protest and reduced declaration, Trotman said, “I believe that in the end, that maturity, good sense and that patriotic spirit will prevail.”

Approximately 120 miners under the umbrella of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) on Friday warned they would halt gold mining, reduce declarations and stage a countrywide Protest over the imposition of new taxation measures. They are also calling for a meeting with President, David Granger and have penned a letter asking for same.

On Saturday, Trotman confirmed that a letter was forwarded to President Granger and has received a favourable response. “I know a letter has been written to His Excellency, the President, I believe that His Excellency has indicated a willingness to meet with them… It is going to be resolved in the best interest of all, eventually” he said.

However, he was quick to point out that there have been a number of engagements between miners and the Ministers of Natural Resources, Ministry of Finance and the GRA (Guyana Revenue Authority) and “I believe that we will continue to engage.”

The Minister further equate the taxes paid by public servants to that which is now required from miners, adding that is not an imposition.

He told media operatives that “I believe the issue has to do with the collection of the tax in terms of…tax being deducted from wages and salaries in the same way as public servants…so it is not an imposition of a new tax, it is really a manner of collection of taxes that are due to the government that some workers pay their fare share. Some are not paying and they are benefitting from the State’s facilities so it is the Ministry of Finance’s effort to try to ensure that more persons who are not paying, do pay taxes so we will engage.”

The new taxation measures were announced in Budget 2017, and it was pointed out that this was done on the heels of the highest gold declaration in recent years. Among the measures include an Increase in tributors tax from 10% to 20%. Miners have argued that it should be the responsibility of GRA to collect the Tributors tax from Miners instead of the Owners/Managers of Mining Concessions because some Miners threaten to harm them or leave the Job.

At Friday’s meeting (January 27, 2017), GGDMA Consultant, Tony Shields also expressed the view that the government “does not respect this Industry at the present time.” He also said past meetings have only been photo-opportunities.

But Trotman defended his side of the fence by with “the fact that we have been able to have them produce 705, 000 oz, a monumental record, it means that they must have felt some impetuous to produce and some atmosphere that was conducive towards that mammoth production.”

On the other hand, it was highlighted that complaints are made frequently by small miners who say that the GGDMA and the big miners are not respecting them.

The GGDMA wants a freeze on the current tax regime.

At a previous meeting with GRA, Commissioner General, Godfrey Statia sought to explain the new tax regime and gain the support of the miners. While some clarity was brought about, the miners were not placated.

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