GINA, Guyana, Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes has described Budget 2017 as one which speaks to the lives of miners.
The Minister explained some of the hardships encountered by women miners, some of which she related from her personal experience as a miner. Minister Broomes recalled being stuck in a mile -wide swamp for two nights, in a truck with a jaguar close by due to a poorly maintained trail, “Mr. Speaker that is what the PPP put the miners under.”
The presence of women miners and workers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), some of whom were present in the Parliament Building were acknowledged by the Minister. “They know that because His Excellency the President named the Honourable Simona Broomes in the Natural Resources Ministry, because of her experience, their lives are in good hands.”
The Minister stressed that everything given to the miners was imposed by the previous PPP/C Government. This, she said, included the Value Added Tax exemptions which only benefitted jewellers. “I call that cruelty to miners, ” Broomes stated.
Tax concessions which were given by the Government were highlighted. Minister Broomes stated that it was the first time that an investment agreement was signed with small miners. It was noted by the Minister that women are now being represented, in another first, on the Board of the GGMC.
“Mr. Speaker, I advocated for a seat to represent women. Where were the women in this House when Broomes was on the road, struggling under the hands of the PPP?”
The outspoken Minister reminded the House that eventually she was appointed to the Special Land Use Committee. “If you ask me which side I’m on, it is the miners’ side because the Government is on the miners’ side. We are a Government for the people, and all the people”.
She stressed that Government always maintained an open- door policy, hence she would lead any discussions to negotiate with government for betterment. The Minister said that what was inherited from the previous Government was a high level of corruption, but work is underway to eliminate this.
The Minister then informed the National Assembly that efforts are being made to distribute lands without discriminating, “The Government will open the door for small miners in clusters. Be it you in the wheel chair, be it you in the media. As long as you are a Guyanese, the national patrimony and the wealth of the country belongs to all of you.”
The Minister informed the House that by 2020, the entire country would be mapped for all of the 40 known minerals with some $2B being earmarked for this. She also spoke of improved management for all mining operations nationwide. Government recognised that miners are suffering, hence measures are being taken to fix the issues. “The Government recognises the great contribution of the miners and mining, I want to say to you that the Government is worthy of your contribution.”
The Minister then announced that the main access road to Mahdia, which was in a poor condition prompting several protests, will be also fixed in 2017.
She emphasised that Budget 2017 offers a good life for all. Speaking to the future, Minister Broomes said that plans are in train to have the University of Guyana adjust its curriculum with assistance from qualified professionals to boost safety in the sector. The Minister then made a call to all interested persons to participate in the mining sector whether they are differently-abled or not.
By: Paul McAdam