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– Minister PersaudMinister of Natural Resources and Environment, Robert Persaud met with sand/loam pit operators Saturday last where he informed of the Ministry’s intention to strengthen the enforcement of regulations so as to ensure that this activity is done within the confines of the country’s laws.Minister of Natural Resources and Environment,Wholesale NFL Jerseys China, Robert Persaud addressing sand miners during the meetingPresentations were made by officials from agencies such as the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reminding sand mining operators of the necessary procedures regarding permits and authorisation as well of their responsibilities under the relevant legislative provisions. The meeting was held at the Splashmins’ Resort, Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara.Better MonitoringOne of the issues the Minister focused on was the proper management of sand mining activities. He said, “We would have to enhance our abilities and our capabilities of monitoring what is taking place.”He explained that there is a significant disparity in the number of sand mining activities that are actually taking place from what is captured in the Ministry’s data. This he said is a total misrepresentation of the actual situation and emphasised the need for proper monitoring and tracking.The inability to carry out proper monitoring results in the State and the citizens of Guyana being denied the royalty of $15 per tonne, especially when the end consumers pay as much as $18,000 per truck load of sand.RoyaltiesAs it stands, sand miners owe the State $132M in arrears royalty. Minister Persaud said that through the GGMC, they have been encouraging stakeholders to settle these outstanding amounts.“We don’t want to be hard, people are making money, but if you are engaged in an activity that is not making you money then give up the activity, give up the resources for somebody else to benefit, don’t come and complain that I am not making money so I not going to pay the royalties. It is your duty to pay the royalties,” Minister Persaud said.Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Robert Persaud addressing sand miners during the meetingHe rubbished the notion that operators working on Government contracts are automatically entitled waiver in royalty and reminded that this is not stated anywhere in the Bills of Quantity. There is a mechanism in place for waivers to be granted and this can be activated administratively.“We want to work with you,Jerseys From China, so if you have outstanding arrears…the approach we have taken is to accept whatever payment plan you have provided,Jerseys From China, we haven’t given you a deadline, but you have to recognise that we have an obligation to fulfill in this regard,Wholesale Authentic NFL Jerseys,” the Minister said.Environmental managementLast year, a new unit, Compliance and Enforcement was set up in the EPA tasked with ensuring more stringent monitoring of authorisations that were granted. In this regard, enforcement regulations are now being drafted in keeping with the EPA Act.“We have seen that some of the sand mining activities are being carried out in a way that is being disruptive to the environment and persons are not doing what they are supposed to do at the end of the operations… we are putting these things in place, not to make life difficult for you, but to ensure that your activities are consistent with the laws of Guyana,” the Minister assured.Land availabilityMinister Persaud spoke of the competing land use interest and informed that the Ministry has just completed a national land use plan and is currently working on developing regional land use plans. In these plans, specific areas will be earmarked for different types of activities.He lamented that there are instances where persons apply for agricultural lands and upon acquisition, then approach the GGMC for a permit to engage in sand mining activities in the said area.A lot of complaints were made by sand miners against officers of the relevant agencies, particularly the GGMC.Minister Persaud urged the miners not to take the actions or inactions of a view and pin it on an entire organisation. He noted that the problem of public officers not towing the line is not unique to the GGMC, but rather it is one that exists in many other public agencies.The Commission has received the green light to recruit 25 additional persons who will be tasked with dealing with matters that have not received much attention in the past in terms of sand, bauxite,NFL Jerseys Store, quarry and other mining resources.“If there are inconsistent or irregular actions by some officers, we need the cooperation of people to deal with it,” he said.Many land issues have escalated into disputes that have engaged the attention of the courts. On many occasions, there have been court rulings that are not in favour of the Natural Resources Ministry or its agencies, and as such there are several appeal cases that are pending.“We feel that our hands are also tied by court actions in enforcing the regulations…in a democracy when you have the separation of powers, those decisions are in a way corrosive and sometimes harm our ability to do our work, but we still have to abide by it,” the Natural Resources Minister stated.The Minister also spoke of  looking at opportunities whereby sand can be extracted and packaged in a way that it becomes an additional product. He also urged miners to diversify their operations.In 2012, more than 146,Wholesale Jerseys Online,000 tonnes of silica sand was exported. (a GINA feature)
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