Bosai moves to grant tax-free overtime for workers
– amid market share loss, other challengesBy Utamu Bellehe management of Bosai Minerals Group Guyana Incorporated (BMGGI) has announced a move to grant its employees tax-free overtime, on the heels of a similar move by Aroaima-based Russian Aluminium (RUSAL).BMGGI officials meeting with Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman and regional officialsThe move was announced by Company Secretary, retired Major General Norman McLean on Tuesday, during a tour of the company’s plant operations by Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman. Following the tour, officials of the company and regional officials had a meeting with the Minister. Those in attendance included BMGGI General Manager (ag) Eric Hue, Region 10 Chairman Renis Morian, and BMGGI Personnel Manager Trudell Marks. McLean said the company, in like fashion, would have adopted what RUSAL was recently advised to do in granting tax-free overtime, further explaining that it was a burning issue, which the company tried to settle for a long time and workers were expected to take strike action over. He said the workers welcomed the decision, while stressing that Finance Minister Winston Jordan has rejected almost everything the company asked for, and as such, he was very happy to see that the workers would be receiving tax-free overtime.ChallengesDuring the discourse, McLean also outlined various challenges being faced by the company, highlighting that one of the major problems was the issue of property tax. He explained to the Minister that the company has been seeking a five-year break from paying property tax. The Company Secretary said it was his hope that the issue of property tax would be dealt with in a similar vein as the issue of tax-free overtime, given the fact that Government was a 30 per cent shareholder in the company. He stressed that having the two dust collectors set up only compounds the situation, as it has increased the property tax costs. McLean added that he was very surprised to hear of complaints regarding dust in the environment when there were two dust collectors at the company which captures dust. On that note, he said the company was facing serious challenges, but it has always been one which was respectable and bent on finding new avenues.McLean further cited frequent blackouts in the community as another issue, and pointed out that the company, which is tasked with providing electricity has eight “old” Wärtsilä generators, while noting concerns in the past.Market loss“What you see here today is a manifestation of some of the problems we are facing. There is overproduction, we’ve lost market share … so things are very difficult for us … I keep reminding your Minister of Finance that the Government is the 30 per cent shareholder in this company, so whatever we do, Government enjoys the fruit of that. So, I do want to remind them that we do have problems,” McLean went on to state.He added that the company was currently looking at metal grade bauxite and moving 500,000 tonnes since it has built a plant in China, which will need 500,000 tonnes of manganese ore; however, there were challenges surrounding this task. Another challenge which McLean pointed out was that trucks took approximately seven hours to travel from Matthews Ridge to Port Kaituma. He explained that hauling them also posed a real challenge. Hence, the company is looking at a different route and establishing its own port.Government awarenessMinister Trotman in response said Government was aware of the challenges faced by the company, including that of property tax, and promised to try his best to partner with the company to assist. He added that a Committee would be put together to assess the state of bauxite in the country, noting that he believed that it was a timely endeavour, in light of the nation observing a hundred years of bauxite mining.“So, we’ll have a review of where things are and where we see it with regard to the future and what role your company will be playing,” he said. Trotman also urged that workers be treated with respect and the highest level of safety be undertaken at the company. He further praised BMGGI for taking the step to grant tax-free overtime for workers.The Minister added that he was very happy with the project at Matthews Ridge and promised to visit the location next week, but expressed concern over discarded materials which he noted were being put “everywhere” in the bauxite plant. He was quickly assured by officials that the plant was in the process of being cleaned up. Regional Chairman Renis Morian also noted that he was pleased with the support shown to the workers with the granting of tax-free overtime.