Irfaan Ali, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Presidential Candidate, has outlined a slew of measures to aid what he describes as a ‘rapidly declining’ mining sector.
Should he be elected President at what should be early regional and general elections, Ali, a former Housing Minister under the PPP administration, noted that the sector has endured “a rapid state of decline” under the David Granger-led APNU+AFC Coalition Government.
In an exclusive interview with the News Room, Ali highlighted that the sector has suffered tremendously over the past four years, due to a direct result of “poor Government policies.”
He made the assessment after sourcing feedback from miners and getting a firsthand look at operations in the mining sector.
One of the factors hindering growth and development in the sector, Ali pointed out, is no intervention on the part of the Government in terms of infrastructure development, leading to a higher cost of transportation and increased cost of production.
He added that “burdensome taxes have negatively affected recapitalization and increase the transactional cost”, while the removal of incentives that brought saving to miners and hinterland communities have had a negative effect on those directly involved.
Ali also claimed there has been favouritism in the distribution of mining properties and claims, noting that the mining sector has been subject to neglect, mismanagement and corruption.
Determined to ensure the sector is revived under his watch, Ali promised the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on hinterland travel and freight, a move he said will not only benefit the mining sector but residents of the mining communities.
The Presidential hopeful also plans to remove the fee imposed by Government to sell gold, eliminate the sliding scale imposed by Government and replace it with a two percent final tax and remove VAT on machinery and equipment.
The construction of roads, through an investment of a minimum of two billion dollars, is also on the cards, thereby facilitating easier transport and reducing cost.
Establishing a fairer and more equitable system in the distribution of mining properties is also an area that Ali plans to tackle should he get the voters’ nod to be Guyana’s next President.
A review of the “onerous documentation required by small miners” is also on Ali’s mandate.