Jan 13, 2016 News
…But Jagdeo expresses disappointment on sloth to reduce VAT
When it comes to the Coalition administration honouring the remainder of its manifesto promises, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo says he and his team will not stand in the way. In fact, he said that he fully supports the manifesto promises which were made by the Granger-led Government to the citizenry.
Jagdeo intimated to Kaieteur News during an interview yesterday that he believes that the government’s promises were positive and designed to bring benefits to the people. “We will not stand in any way against benefits going to the ordinary Guyanese.”
However, the Opposition Leader said that he is disappointed that Government is yet to reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT). He reminded that Government said it would be guided by a Committee which was established to look at this, but it has been some five months now since the establishment of the Committee, and not a single word has been said on it.
Jagdeo said, “They (Government) can easily come forward and say to the nation that they made a mistake that the VAT rate will be cut and we have no intentions in doing so, rather than to delay and delay. This is one of the things they said they would do within a 100 days of being in office.
“I am very disappointed and the Opposition will be raising it in Parliament.”
The Tax Review Committee is chaired by Economist, Dr. Maurice Odle, and includes tax specialists as Christopher Ram, Godfrey Statia and Dr. Thomas Singh.
When the Committee was formed, Finance Minister Winston Jordan had said that the Commission had until December 2015, to produce an interim report from which provisions/announcements can be made in the 2016 National Budget.
Minister Jordan had told the State media that the Committee has been given its Terms of Reference (TOR) to guide its work which includes investigating and inquiring into the state of taxation, to review the taxes with a view to achieving a number of objectives and to look at the administration of taxes with a view to bringing about efficiency, rationalization etc.
“We are aiming to look after all taxes, their structure, their functions, objectives, equity, incidence and fairness and essentially how these taxes are administered because that’s a major issue. I want taxpayers to feel that they can pay taxes because they have a friendly tax service.
“We want a system that is fair and firm and one that doesn’t exempt friends of the Government, friends of the tax commissioner, it should be seen by all as fair as it is applied all across the board and it has a rigorous legal system in place that can go after tax dodgers, tax cheats,” the Minister had stated.
According to the Minister, the committee will not only be looking at how to reduce the Value Added Tax but will also be examining all taxes with a view of relieving the burden on the population.
“We are going to do tax administration and taxation in a systemic way, informed by evidence, and not necessarily being pushed by moral and other considerations, so this committee represents the first step in doing that,” Minister Jordan said.
Jordan had explained that while Government promised to reduce VAT it was found that it could not be done immediately.
“It would have been highly irresponsible for us to just come in, take a major tax category like VAT and just proceed to reduce it, in the hope that it would meet some objective or criteria earlier stated,” the Finance Minister had said.
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