Miners reject Govt’s below-market prices proposal

first_img…say move is to subsidise failed Gold Board which lost B in 2 yearsIn addition to removing a range of concessions afforded to the mining industry and increased taxation and regulation that will certainly kill the already struggling local mining industry, the Government is now mulling giving miners below-world-market prices for their declared gold.The move has since seen the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) and the Guyana Women Miners Organisation (GWMO) coming together in swift condemnation and calling on the Government to immediately remove “from consideration the idiotic proposal to force local gold miners to accept three per cent less than the world market price for gold produced”.The bodies in a joint communiqué issued publicly on Thursday said, “No miner, under any circumstance, will support this proposal…Our two associations are united in this position.”The GGDMA and the GWMO in their joint missive sounded the alarm, saying they wish to “inform all miners that the Government of Guyana is seriously considering a scheme, which would force small- and medium-scale gold miners to sell their gold for three per cent less than the world market price to the Guyana Gold Board.According to the stakeholders, at current market prices, miners will lose $8000 for every ounce of gold sold.The Natural Resources Ministry has since responded, making it clear that “the discussion on asking gold miners to pay a percentage below the London Fix price for gold has been ongoing for many years”, but “no decisions have been taken on this as the matter is before the Cabinet”.The GGDMA and the GWMO lamented that the move was in fact geared at ensuring that the Guyana Gold Board stayed afloat.“We, the miners, see this as another move designed to cripple local small- and medium-scale miners in a continued move by the current Administration to miniaturise the local sector.”It was observed too that under the proposed pricing arrangement foreign companies that mainly export their gold would have won, since they would be exempt.“It is a fact that the Gold Board, due to mismanagement, lost over 10 billion of taxpayer dollars during the period of 2012 to 2014 and now the Government want miners to subsidise this failing institution,” the missive to stakeholders said.According to the miners’ representatives, “buying gold from local miners at the fixed world market prices has been the norm for the Guyana Gold Board and gold dealers in Guyana for over 20 years.”The two bodies have since suggested that if the Guyana Gold Board—which has been plagued by corruption allegations in recent years—cannot run its operations and be profitable, in contrast to the privately licensed dealers, it should cease operations immediately.The GGDMA and the GWMO used the opportunity to recall that Government has already proposed to remove all assistance to the industry, including VAT relief, fuel relief, duty-free vehicle concessions and tax relief on spares and mining equipment.They said, “This, along with potential hikes in rentals, more stringent regulations and additional taxation will certainly kill the already struggling local mining industry.”No consultationsIt was deduced that this new burden will see miners now paying out almost 10 per cent or $25,700 for every ounce of the gold they produce to the Government of Guyana.The proposal, according to the two mining representative bodies, has been tabled without any consultation with miners or the mining associations.“The GGDMA and the GWMO are deeply concerned with these developments from an Administration, who, thus far, has made only empty promises and has made life harder for the small and medium-scale miners.”It was pointed out too that despite all the rhetoric about consultations, “this proposal was secretly developed”.The two entities have since adopted a position of suspicion regarding all previous consultations and asked the Government, “Can we now trust your word?”The GGDMA and the GWMO in their statement has since demanded an immediate end to the proposal and “a commitment from the Government of Guyana that they are serious about meaningful consultations”.The GGDMA and the GWMO said they would be meeting with miners across Guyana to inform them about the impending changes and to discuss how they would affect their livelihood, with an outreach programme planned for the coming week.Reiterating their position, the GGDMA and the GWMO said: “We are fully opposed to this proposal, which is under active consideration at the Cabinet level and we urge the Government of Guyana not to take this foolish measure.”The representative bodies added that the measure would not create jobs and would, in fact, kill employment and spending.“It will plunge the already stagnant economy further down the spiral. Mining is the leading economic driver of the Guyanese economy and this proposal will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.”The mining representatives used the occasion to observe that no other Private Sector industry currently provides more employment than mining, adding that “crime is tied to unemployment, and in an already slow economic situation, killing off the mining sector will not solve the current problems Guyana faces, but it will magnify them”.They lamented that the Government, through the Guyana Gold Board, is planning to squeeze blood out of the miners.It was also recalled that the Ministry of the Presidency has indicated that it would be applying more stringent measures to the industry and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon is on record saying they will put measures in place to ensure the survival of the Guyana Gold Board.According to the GGDMA and the GWMO, “we did not anticipate that miners would be robbed of an additional three per cent to maintain the Guyana Gold Board’s incompetence…We will not be burdened with the bill for the Guyana Gold Board.”last_img read more

Housing: partnerships to boost delivery

first_imgSince its inception, the agency has facilitated the acquisition of land for housing developments across the country, allowing for more than 240 000 new houses to be handed over to new owners between 2008 and 2009. Sexwale says the growing demand for shelter and the mushrooming of informal settlements in most urban areas has necessitated a new approach to the housing challenge, one which will minimise corruption in the delivery of adequate houses. Focus on partnerships The basic entry requirement for the programme is that individuals need to be part of an already organised community group, or must have indicated they want to participate in a community-driven housing project. Dyantyi says that, if implemented correctly, the policy could benefit millions of people in need of houses, and could be the answer to the country’s housing delivery challenges. The development also forms part of the southern extension of the township. According to data from the Department of Human Settlements, some 2.7-million houses have been built in South Africa over the last 14 years. Building voucher system Authorities, however, admit that there have been challenges: “It’s a challenge and it’s going to take us time, but we will get there, it’s going to take one step at a time,” says Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale. With a backlog of over two-million houses, the government is embarking on radical changes that could turn the tide of housing delivery in South Africa through partnerships with NGOs and local community groups. Source: BuaNews One of the strategies listed in the policy, the People’s Housing Process (PHP), will see the establishment of a new funding mechanism that will allow for more community-driven projects in the delivery of what is now being termed “human settlements”. The government has realised that just building houses, without proper monitoring and maintenance, has resulted in unscrupulous contractors costing the state more than R1-billion to rebuild badly constructed houses. People’s Housing Process Housing Development Agency The department has, however since agreed to review the guidelines. Provinces are required to manage their demand databases more effectively to prevent confusion on waiting lists that has led to conflicts in many parts of the country. The PHP’s policy framework and guidelines were at one stage also met with much resistance from some quarters, as they were said to be too narrow in their focus and apparently did not redefine the policy in a way that community-driven initiatives could be included. He is adamant the new national housing policy could turn the tide in the delivery of houses, an issue that has become central to service delivery protests throughout the country. But the PHP has not been without challenges. One of the concerns, raised during a conference to debate the policy, is the amount of time it takes for municipalities to release land for PHP projects, something believed to be causing delays for some community projects. “PHP encourages government supporting those communities who want to work with government to build human settlements in terms of a demand-led approach … This must be viewed and managed constructively so that is not seen as a means of queue-jumping,” reads the policy document. Spending on housing delivery had also increased from R4.8-billion in 2004/05 to R10.9-billion in the last financial year, increasing at an average rate of 23%. The PHP policy further proposes an alignment of the existing housing delivery programmes, but with a focus on partnerships among non-governmental organisations and community groups. The process involves beneficiaries actively participating in decision-making over the housing process and housing product. Richard Dyantyi, special adviser to Sexwale, says plans are under way to introduce a voucher system, in which organised communities will be given vouchers to access building material and short courses to enable them to start their own housing projects. “These are the proposals that we need to debate and take to the people, because a lot is involved with human settlement – you need parks, you need clinics … So it’s very important that we empower these communities so they can deliver human settlements that will be sustainable,” Dyantyi said. The demand became so high that the then Department of Housing was forced to look outside itself for solutions to meet its deadline for delivery when it announced the establishment of a Housing Development Agency in 2009. Government officials acknowledge that post-1994, South Africa marked the beginning of an unprecedented demand for houses as more people moved to urban areas in search of economic opportunities created by the new democratic order. 31 August 2010 “We don’t just build houses anymore, that thing is not working, we are building human settlements … People must have clinics, police stations and places where children can play, and we are involving communities in that,” he said during the launch of the first PHP-model housing development in Plettenberg Bay recently. “Beneficiaries are empowered individually and collectively so that the community ultimately takes control of the housing process themselves,” the policy document reads. “This includes identifying the land, planning the settlement, getting approvals and resources to begin the development.” The model has also been introduced in Gauteng province, where 907 units were handed over to residents of DoornKop, Soweto two weeks ago. Once completed, it is expected to create more than 24 000 housing opportunities for people who qualify for subsidised housing and those who earn between R3 500 and R7 500 monthly. Challenges, concernslast_img read more

JS-Kit’s New Blog Comment Platform Enters Public Beta

first_imgAfter a short private beta test, JS-Kit just announced that Echo, its new blog commenting platform, is now available as a public beta. Echo aggregates conversations around a blog post from across the Internet and allows users to share their comments on Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed. Echo offers a number of well-designed and unique features, including real-time updating and the ability to capture social gestures related to a blog’s content like star ratings and ‘likes’ from across the Web. In addition, at least for the time being, JS-Kit also offers good spam and obscenity filters.Easy InstallationInstalling Echo is just as easy as installing the plugins of its competitors like Intense Debate or Disqus – which is dealing with a major spam problem these days. JS-Kit provides plugins for WordPress and Blogger, as well as a code-snippet for other blogging platforms.The Best Things in Life Aren’t FreeIt’s important to point out, though, that the most interesting features, including real-time updates and comment aggregation from third-party sites like Twitter and FriendFeed are not available in the free version of Echo. The free version includes most of the core features of Echo, including the ability to share comments on Twitter and Facebook, nested replies, moderation tools, and customization. For $98 a year, paying users will get access to Echo’s aggregation features and real-time updates. JS-Kit also offers a white-label solution with priority support, as well as OEM integration. It’s good to see some development in the blog commenting market again. After a flurry of announcement and product releases last year, development and new product releases markedly slowed down this year, even though the growth of Twitter and Facebook only intensified the problem of comment fragmentation. frederic lardinois Tags:#Product Reviews#web A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Related Posts center_img 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostinglast_img read more