Guyana Bauxite Mining: Rusal tells GRA auditors: “leave or we leave”

GRA’s Godfrey Statia

The startling disclosure was made Friday by Commissioner-General Godfrey Statia during a press conference.

The Russian-controlled company is under fire, for the umpteenth time, for not only its labour practices but for taxes and other issues.

A few months ago, questions were raised over possible abuse of duty free concessions on fuel and dividends paid to the Government of Guyana.       

GRA decided to act. It sent in a team to the company’s operations in the Upper Berbice, Region Ten area.

Asked if there is an ongoing issue between GRA and the company, the Commissioner-General did not mince words on Friday.

“There is always an ongoing issue but anytime you go to a taxpayer, he believes he is being targeted. When I sent my guys, when they went down to do the audit, (Rusal) told them that if they don’t stop, they will close shop. And I can say that without fear.”

The tax chief also made it clear that there appears to be some level of non-compliance by Rusal/BCGI.
The company also would have acknowledged that it owed.

A few pieces of the equipment that Rusal brought out a few months ago, parked at a New Amsterdam location. It is unclear what happened to the equipment.

“Furthermore, emanating from certain parts of the audit, we decided that because we are under discussions with the lawyers and so forth, until these things are reconciled, then they can pay what they think they owe. They said ok.”
The fact that the bauxite company agreed to pay meant they there was non-compliance, Statia pointed out.
“Also they said they would pay at a particular time and we had the exemptions letter waiting on them. But they didn’t bring in the cheque so we are still waiting on them.”

Rusal since coming here in the 2000s was granted a slew of benefits. These include tax holidays and duty free concessions on fuel and equipment.

They took over operations that were considered a going concern…with workers and electricity, among other things.

Since then, Rusal has been sacking workers in breach of labour laws, the workers’ union has claimed.
In 2009, more than 50 of them were fired. That matter is still not settled.

Last year, 90 workers were sent home for demanding better conditions and pay. Workers blocked the Berbice River then to stop Rusal vessels from moving the bauxite.

While that matter was resolved after a month-long standoff, one year later- last month- the company again took what was described as an unlawful decision to send home 142 workers.

The action sparked another standoff and blocking of the river.

The Department of Labour is paying close attention to the matter and attempting to seek a compromise.
The Cabinet is also being briefed.

Rusal is one of several companies in the extractive industry that is under the microscope.

The Russian company has also been blocked from shipping out its equipment.

Last week, workers took photos of several pieces, including trucks, which were taken from barge, from the Kurubuka area, to New Amsterdam, Berbice.

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Comments

  • kamtanblog  On February 2, 2020 at 2:29 am

    Corruption seems endemic in Guyana today
    …where are the “ anti corruption” laws
    and it’s enforcement.

    A prison in the middle of Amazonia may have
    to be built to accommodate the enforcing of
    any new anti corruption legislation,
    Is Guyana’s culture one of
    It is clever to cheat/steal/thief
    and if caught a lil backhander/bribe
    will do the trick.

    Come on Guyana guyanese u can do better.

    Make the laws and enforce them.
    After a few incarcerations the corrupt will
    soon get the message.
    If u tief u go to jail
    Do not pass go
    Do not collect$200
    And no get out of jail free !
    It’s not rocket science.

    • wally n  On February 2, 2020 at 6:52 pm

      PRISON? ….Amozonia? already waiting….Mazaruni….expansion maybe?

  • brandli62  On February 2, 2020 at 8:57 am

    “When I sent my guys, when they went down to do the audit, (Rusal) told them that if they don’t stop, they will close shop. And I can say that without fear.”

    Godfrey Statia, Commissioner-General, GRA

    Given this blatant level of defiance of RUSAL, it seems to me that the GRA has no choice but to enforce the law. The disastrous history of non-compliance and contract breaches that has unfolded ever since RUSAL has taken over the Guyanese bauxite industry in the early 2000 is appalling. The management appears to think that they can get way with this type of behaviour, while stuffing their pockets. It seems that it’s high time to end RUSAL operations in Guyana by revoking their licence to operate, unless they change their behaviour profoundly and rapidly. In my humble opinion, Russian companies are particularly prone to corruption as that’s the mode of operation back in Russia.

    In general, the Guyanese government needs to reconsider its options with regard to the Bauxite industry. Given the huge amounts of cheap natural gas that will become available soon, it might make sense build a power plant that could provide electricity to refine bauxite to aluminium in Guyana. Given this resource, it might become interesting for Western aluminum producers to set up shop in Guyana. They will hopefully also adhere to good governance standards more readily than Russian or Chinese companies.

  • brandli62  On February 2, 2020 at 10:44 am

    How about ALCOA?

    P.S. The demand for aluminium will increase with the adoption of electric car technology world-wide.

  • Trevor  On February 2, 2020 at 11:53 am

    How can you not make money for ten years, yet are importing equipment which cost millions of Amero dollars?

  • brandli62  On February 2, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    Simple, it’s called corruption. That’s probably the reason why management tried to ship the equipment out of the bauxite mines….

  • BridgIt A Sam-Biley  On February 2, 2020 at 11:54 pm

    Good on you, Mr Statia. Guyana needs a few more like you. May be that the previous government would have allowed Rusai to bully the workers, but this was not allowed. Great move forward.

    • kamtanblog  On February 3, 2020 at 2:47 am

      Salute you Mr Statia

      Will recommend you for a knighthood
      Or in Guyana’s case highest accolade of
      State !

      Congratulations Sir !

      Kamtan 🇬🇧🇬🇾🇪🇸🇬🇧👍

  • Emanuel  On February 3, 2020 at 3:53 am

    We have Russian, Chinese, Brazilian, American, British and other international interests operating in our Guyana.

    It is time to be on guard when so many sharks are circling the ship.

    • brandli62  On February 3, 2020 at 9:51 am

      It’s starts with enforcing the law and having a zero-tolerance policy for corruption. Once you get these two points across and engrained companies know that there is a no-nonsense policy. Have a look at how Singapore had curbed endemic corruption! Public servants are expected to be efficient and competent. They were payed salaries that made them no longer susceptible to corrupt practices. Finally, the rule of law as enforced. Simple and efficient! Given the dawn of a new age, Guyana needs to follow such examples, vigorously.

      • kamtanblog  On February 3, 2020 at 11:37 am

        Yep ! Let’s hope the elected jackasses do
        so ..,if not kick asses !
        No ifs or buts !

        It will take very very strong leadership !

        Kamtan

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