Budget 2018Ahead of Budget 2018, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) has made a request to have Government review the current tax system for miners with the hope that this could be somehow restructured to lessen the financial burden on all miners, whether small or large.This is not something new as the GGDMA has, over the past year, been lobbying the Government on numerous tax issues, including the tributor’s tax, tax rate and outcomes. However, they were never able to get anywhere with this request, but hopefully this could change.At the GGDMA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Friday, it was revealed that submissions were made to Finance Minister Winston Jordan on September 20, 2017. This was followed by a meeting with the Minister and team on Thursday, September 28, 2017.Subsequently, a letter of justification, along with an analysis, was sent to the Minister on October 10, 2017 as to why the gold and diamond mining sector should be treated differently than the other sectors when it comes to taxes. While discussions are ongoing, the GGDMA hopes to have a favourable response.On February 1, 2017, tributors or persons engaged in the gold or diamond mining industry who are rewarded for their labour under the tribute system, which includes persons engaged in the site operation became subject to a 20 per cent withholding tax, instead of 10 per cent which was previously deducted.The 20 per cent withholding tax, in addition to the additional filing of income tax at the end of the year, the mandate to keep daily records of all transactions or face sanctions for failing to do so and other outlined changes did not sit well with the members of the mining industry, hence the submission.Meanwhile, members of the GGDMA were also told that the Association was able to negotiate a better package for all miners, whether they be small, medium, or large. This happened after lengthy negotiations with the Guyana Gold Board (GCB) on a new fee structure.A processing fee of $1300 per ounce from one ounce and up to and including 100 ounces will be charged, while a processing fee of $1400 per ounce for every ounce starting from 101 ounces up to 200 ounces.Therefore, a downward sliding scale of $1300 per ounce from 201 ounces to 300 ounces; and then $1200 per ounce for all additional ounces between 301 ounces and 500 ounces will be charged.There will also be a ceiling or maximum of $400,000 for all sales up to 1000 ounces and for sales greater than 1000 ounces, the processing fee will be $400 per ounce, for every ounce above 1000 ounces.Gold Board processing feeFollowing the announcement by the GGB made on Friday, June 23, 2017, that all miners/dealers selling gold to the GGB will be charged a processing fee of $4000 per ounce of gold, this was immediately rejected by the GGDMA in a number of media statements, since miners/dealers were only paying a processing fee of $1000 per ounce of gold. This $3000 proposed increase by the GGB was strongly opposed at all levels by the GGDMA.It was revealed at the AGM that the Association met with Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman and the GGB on this matter to represent the miners’ interest. This meeting was held on Tuesday, July 4, 2017 at the Natural Resources Ministry. Coming out of this meeting, the Minister had proposed a processing fee of $3000. The GGDMA again felt that this was too much for the miners to bear and rejected that amount.However, the GGDMA would have received a letter from the Natural Resources Minister that the new processing fee was $2500 and would take effect on September 1, 2017. This new fee, however, did not go down well with the GGDMA and miners as a whole, since the GGDMA Secretariat would have received many complaints and grievances on this matter.At a meeting on September 7, 2017 with the Minister in the presence of the Chairman of the GGB, members were reminded that the GGDMA again lobbied hard to the Government, sharing the plight of miners and the burdensome effect the increase was having on them. The Minister and the Chairman of the Gold Board after hearing the arguments did give a commitment to review the processing fee.