More tax pressures on miners

Local miners continue to voice concerns about the new tax measures, included in Budget 2017, and contend that these will squeeze the life out of the local mining industry. In an advertisement in today’s daily newspapers, the appeal that was sent by the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) and the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO) to the President, was made public Local miners have also repeated their request for President David Granger to agree to an urgent meeting with them.

The advertisement included the text of a letter sent to Granger, which was signed by Terrence Adams, President of GGDMA and Urica Primus, the Head of the GWMO.

The letter said that miners need to have consultations on several outstanding issues such including:
• The increase in the tributor’s tax from 10% to 20%;
• The payment of a 2% tax at source and the additional filing of income tax at the end of the year;
• The need to keep daily records of all transactions and punitive measures for failing to do so; and
• Value Added Tax (VAT) exemption on heavy-duty equipment among other areas.

“Surely, after almost 30 years of miners operating under the established tax code it makes logical sense that the main stakeholders of the industry have some input on the changes that will affect their pocket and family’s livelihood. We cannot abide by the return of high handed decisions that impose upon the industry impractical measures that will drive away more people than it will retain,” the advertisement said.

It added, “…we note that several of the technocrats appointed to govern the industry and make changes to its future have little firsthand experience in what it actually takes to be a miner in Guyana.”

Also, an appeal was made to the Minister of Finance and the Head of the GRA to join the miners on a trip to the interior for a firsthand understanding about the industry – one that “they are about to tax into oblivion” with the new tax measures.

Notably, 45 of the 120 miners present at a meeting of the GGDMA at its North Road headquarters, recently, voted to have the association document their concerns in an open letter to President Granger. The Miners argued that it is time that the government, which has not properly engaged them since coming into office, understands that they are serious about having their concerns heard.

Today’s advertisement made clear that, “The GGDMA, the GWMO and all other miners stand together on this issue and we will not be divided.”

Last week, President Granger was given an ultimatum by local miners – either he agrees to a meeting within a fortnight or the country will be treated to a slowdown in declarations and mass protest actions over the new tax measures and other government moves that are hurting the local mining industry. He is yet to respond.