The GGB has no choice

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

Dear Editor, I re­fer to the let­ter writ­ten by A con­cerned miner ti­tled, ‘Gold Board killing the golden goose’ (KN, April 14). I was won­der­ing when such a de­vel­op­ment would oc­cur, and knew that it in­evitably had to, given the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the Guyana Gold Board (GGB) to ful­fil its obli­ga­tions and serve this na­tion re­spon­si­bly. I am sur­prised at my­self for re­spond­ing to an anony­mous pres­ence, but I must.

First, who­ever “A con­cerned miner” is, or is a front for, there was very de­lib­er­ate avoid­ance and pre­tended ig­no­rance on the role of min­er­als, in this in­stance gold, func­tion­ing as fuel for cor­rup­tion, money laun­der­ing, and ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing; and as those re­late very sharply to this coun­try. This is found to be con­ve­niently self-serv­ing and not-soskil­fully se­lec­tive. And therein is the crux of the con­flict-free man­date de­manded of this coun­try’s com­pli­ance regime from mine-to-mar­ket, and which has been made abun­dantly and re­peat­edly clear. It has been made clear to ev­ery par­tic­i­pant within the min­ing sec­tor on ev­ery oc­ca­sion and at ev­ery fo­rum. That seems to be of no im­port to those who in­sist, nay de­mand, busi­ness as usual. In this the GGB has no choice; or to re­peat: no wrig­gle room. If the Gold Board con­tin­ues to op­er­ate as it did for many a year, then it would not be killing the golden goose; it would be killing the en­tire coun­try.

It is be­side the point whether all of this is clear enough or not, or found ac­cept­able or not. But this much is per­ti­nent and of in­cal­cu­la­ble significance to this na­tion: the 2017 State De­part­ment report on ma­jor money laun­der­ing coun­tries in the re­gion, iden­ti­fied and in­cluded this coun­try, and named min­er­als re­peat­edly as one of the con­trib­u­tory fac­tors to Guyana’s un­wanted des­ig­na­tion. That would be, in the main, gold.

Now as a back­drop to, and in con­junc­tion with, the in­ter­na­tional em­phases and con­cerns of a num­ber of piv­otal bod­ies (LBMA, OECD, SEC, and the EU, among still oth­ers) have pro­vided both guid­ance and non-ne­go­tiable stan­dards on what must pre­vail here. Pur­suant to lo­cal vis­its, in­spec­tions, and arm’s length dis­cus­sions at mul­ti­ple lev­els (in­clud­ing po­lit­i­cal and diplo­matic ones), the GGB moved to im­ple­ment due dili­gence pro­ce­dures and prac­tices that this “con­cerned miner” now non­cha­lantly and dis­mis­sively terms “un­nec­es­sary doc­u­men­ta­tion.” Whether in­di­vid­ual or group, that lux­ury (“un­nec­es­sary”) is theirs and can be so ar­ro­gated; un­for­tu­nately the GGB does not have such lat­i­tude.

Editor, I must now ask, in view of mod­ern com­mer­cial prac­tices, when do such ba­sics as: 1) Na­tional Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ment; 2) Proof of Ad­dress; 3) Tax Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Num­ber; and 4) sup­port­ing min­ing pa­per­work, such as per­mits, li­censes, au­tho­riza­tions, and the like, rise to the level of “un­nec­es­sary doc­u­men­ta­tion” and in­cur such dis­tur­bance and re­sis­tance? I go fur­ther and ques­tion not only when but why? I leave that to the com­mon­sense de­lib­er­a­tions of all thought­ful cit­i­zens.

In ad­di­tion, the writer went on to share that, “This, in turn, has caused deal­ers to turn away min­ers, as they say it’s the Gold Board re­quire­ments, for com­pli­ance all of which we have been us­ing for years and no is­sue.” It is in­ter­est­ing that this as­ser­tion is at­trib­uted to deal­ers. I re­call a top dealer, an honourable re­li­gious man, sit­ting across from me and say­ing be­fore oth­ers that mat­ters have de­vel­oped “from no reg­u­la­tion to over reg­u­la­tion.” I re­peat his very words: “from no reg­u­la­tion.” I sub­mit that this pow­er­fully con­tra­dicts the rep­re­sen­ta­tions of “a con­cerned miner.” In terms of “over-reg­u­la­tion” I humbly dis­agree; but as said ear­lier, the GGB has nei­ther the lat­i­tude nor lux­ury to op­er­ate oth­er­wise.

Fur­ther, it is baf­fling that bil­lion dol­lar busi­nesses in the gold sec­tor have se­ri­ous is­sues and anx­i­eties in pro­duc­ing what can only be de­scribed as rou­tine doc­u­ments that are fun­da­men­tal to stan­dard op­er­a­tions, and of which they them­selves should highly de­sire and in­sist upon hav­ing as part of sound and com­pre­hen­sive busi­ness deal­ings. I would have thought that such would be self­pro­tect­ing.

Even fur­ther, all Guyanese, and none more so than the par­tic­i­pants in this cru­cial sec­tor, which con­trib­utes so heav­ily to the na­tion’s econ­omy, should be cog­nizant of the 4th Round of CFATF due dili­gence ac­tiv­i­ties up­com­ing in the course of this year. It is ex­pected to in­cor­po­rate deep­div­ing and drilling down in the

mother of all com­pre­hen­sive com­pli­ance ef­forts. It could be im­mea­sur­ably dev­as­tat­ing if this coun­try’s ma­jor eco­nomic plank is found lack­ing in terms of com­pli­ance. It would be ut­terly re­gret­table, if Guyana is found want­ing be­cause of re­sis­tance to, and the ab­sence of, ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary and vi­tal doc­u­men­ta­tion. What has been dis­cussed, doc­u­mented, and trans­mit­ted to Guyana is stark and un­yield­ing: no doc­u­ments, no deal­ings; and zero ex­cep­tions. The in­ter­ests and pri­or­i­ties of the Min­is­ter, the Board of Direc­tors, and man­age­ment of the GGB are to ful­fil all re­lated obli­ga­tions. I read­ily ap­pre­ci­ate that change is sel­dom wel­comed, and usu­ally fe­ro­ciously re­sented, even when for the bet­ter. But the GGB has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to the sec­tor and to this na­tion.

Last, the writer pro­nounced more than once on my in­fat­u­a­tion with power. I now pro­ceed to fur­nish one and all with ir­refutable ev­i­dence of such power pur­suits and power trips. My writ­ten res­ig­na­tion (no ques­tions asked, no rea­sons needed) is al­ways on the desk of the Min­is­ter, the Cab­i­net, and the Pres­i­dent. In the fu­ture, I will not be re­spond­ing to any anony­mous party. Yours faith­fully, GHK Lall

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