While he is pleased with the numerous achievements made in reforming the extractive sector, Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, admitted that regulation of the mining sector remains the biggest challenge.
During an exclusive interview with the Guyana Standard, the Minister said, “The area that needs the most work is the regulation of mining as we seek to balance citizens’ aspirations to garner wealth from mining against preserving the environment and respecting the people of the hinterland. This is an ongoing challenge.”
Despite this, Trotman said that the government has seen record declarations of gold since 2015 alongside the lowest deforestation rates. He said, “This tells us that despite the challenges and negatives we are moving to the optimum position between extraction and conservation.”
Turning his attention to the achievements made thus far in the sector, Minister Trotman told this news agency that he is most proud of the willingness and efforts of the Boards and staff of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), and the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) in pushing the coalition’s vision and policies. He noted that this has resulted in better declarations of minerals and better stewardship of the forests.
“Very early in my tenure, I had passed regulations to restrict the importation and use of Styrofoam and I am pleased to see that this initiative has been nationally embraced,” Trotman added.
Further to this, the official said that while Guyana is not without its challenges, he is proud of the efforts made thus far to return transparency and accountability to the extractive sector. Trotman emphasised that this is an issue which the Government has tackled head on.
He said, “Guyana has in a few short years attained membership in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), curbed predatory practices in the forestry sector, worked in a multi-agency approach to reduce the smuggling of gold, and provided better stewardship of the gold sector. No country, and certainly not Guyana, is exempt from challenges of corruption and breaches of rules and regulations. There is now a greater will and effort to tackle it.”
Looking ahead, the Minister said that there are a few areas he is most passionate about tackling, particularly in 2019. The Minister said that there will be greater focus on reducing the heavy bureaucracy while achieving better compliance with the laws and regulations of the sector, increasing access to mining lands to individuals and making the hinterland more accessible by improving the road network, building on the success of the Nappi Reservoir in Region Nine, and paying more attention to water as a valuable resource.