TWENTY ONE quarry operators each owe the State sums of $1 million or more in royalties, business levy and licence fees according to Director of Minerals in the Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources Monty Beharry.
Meanwhile, the state-owned National Quarries Limited has also begun to reduce its monthly operations losses of $700,000 to between $150,000 to $200,000 in recent months and it hopes to break even by implementing its production plans in the coming months said Chief Executive Officer Mustaq Mohammed .
Beharry and Mohammed were among the ministry and National Quarries representatives who appeared yesterday before the Joint Select Committee on State Enterprises which was looking into the operations of National Quarries.
According to Beharry the ministry was currently cracking down on quarry operators to pay outstanding millions of dollars owed the State coffers.
The ministry was not in the business of shutting down their operations to recover the money owed even though provision was in place to do so, he said. The ministry, he said, was partnering with the operators to make sure they pay their debts.
JSC Chairman David Small expressed concern that partnering with the operators may give the impression of weakness. Questioned about the operational losses of almost $700,000 on a monthly basis as was reported previously to the JSC, Mohammed said, a key focus of the new administration was to reduce the operational costs and a 20 per cent reduction has been achieved in recent months.
“We are starting to get to the point where we are almost breaking even,” he said. This included reduction in three main areas including reducing the high overhead costs in mining and maximising on haulage.
“The approach has been to take inefficiencies out of the system and focus on direct operating costs,” he said.