Finance Minister, Winston Jordan announced yesterday, a number of goodies in the 2016 budget.
He said that most of the monetary or fiscal measures are designed to support
Government’s thrust of stimulating the economy while rekindling hope and confidence. He said that these are essential ingredients towards attaining the “Good Life.”
Some of the measures for 2016 speak to a number of adjustments to taxes and amendments to certain legislation. In this regard, the Finance Minister said that while the late submission of the Tax Reform Committee’s report did not allow for its wide ventilation, a number of the measures being proposed are consistent with several recommendations contained in the report.
Measures for ‘greening’ the economy
Jordan proposed the removal of excise tax on motor vehicles under four years old and less that 1500cc. He said that these vehicles currently attract excise tax at the rate of 30 percent and an effective tax rate of 118.7 percent. With this removal, he said that the effective tax rate will be reduced to 68.2 percent.
He also revealed the reduction of excise tax from 50 percent to 10 percent on motor vehicles under four years old, between 1500cc and under 2000cc. As a result, he said that the effective tax rate of 152.3 percent will be reduced to 85 percent.
The Finance Minster also proposed the restriction of the importation of used and/or re-conditioned vehicles to under eight years old from the date of manufacture to the date of importation. He said that this restriction shall be enforced from May 1, 2016.
Jordan also spoke to the notice of intent to ban the importation of used tyres and to reduce taxes on new tyres to encourage their use.
Jordan also announced the ban on Styrofoam used in the packaging of beverage, food and food products, except Styrofoam containers of a type used for packaging frozen fish and seafood.
The Finance Minister informed the House of the amendment to the Customs Act to exempt all bio-degradable containers used in the packaging of food and beverages. He reminded that solar panels and other equipment geared towards producing clean energy are already exempted from the payment of Customs duty.
Jordan also proposed for the commencement of the consultations for the re-introduction of a broad-based, non-discriminatory environmental tax.
Excise tax on alcoholic beverages
The Finance Minister proposed to amend the Excise Tax Act No. 11 of 2005 to provide for a new basis for the imposition of excise tax on alcohol for consumption. He said that the intent is to introduce a graduated, specific rate system for the collection of excise tax on alcohol based on the alcoholic strength.
Jordan said that this is deemed to be the most effective way of dealing with importers and domestic manufacturers of alcoholic beverages. He said that it will also be easier for the Guyana Revenue Authority to administer as well as reduce significantly, opportunities for manipulating the values of the goods for the purpose of taxation.
Removing arbitrary remissions
The Finance Minister proposed to Members of the House, an amendment of the Regulations under the Excise Tax Act 2005, the Customs Act and the Value Added Tax Act (VAT) to exempt from the payment of excise taxes, customs duty and VAT, motor vehicles when imported by returning Foreign Service Officers who have completed official duties overseas.
He also proposed an amendment to the Customs Act to exempt import duty on motor vehicles imported by eligible public officers, qualifying re-migrants and settlers. He said that the opportunity will be taken to close existing loopholes in the law that allows the abuse of the concession.
The Finance Minister also moved for an amendment to the Customs Act to exempt baggage and household effects imported within six months upon arrival of a qualifying re-migrant.
Jordan also proposed a modification to the Financial Administration and Audit Act to exempt diplomatic, consular, international, charitable and non-profit organizations, semi-autonomous agencies, government departments and public corporations from the payment of want-of-entry charges, stamp duty and environmental tax.
He told the House of another adjustment to the Customs Act to exempt computer printer ink and toner cartridges for non-commercial printers as well as an alteration to the Value Added Tax to exempt par-boiled rice; packaging materials and other malt extracts other than ovaltine.
He also brought before the House, a proposal to exempt the importation of personal effects, including motor vehicles for re-migrants and settlers who qualify for exemptions from Customs duties under Section 23 of the Customs Act.
Also of note is the fact that Jordan moved for the modification of the Income Tax Act to provide for the income earned by Artistes during festivities certified by the Minister responsible for tourism to be exempted from the payment of income tax. He also noted that the Act should be altered to allow the Commissioner General to apply a refund towards outstanding taxes, levy, interest or penalties payable by any person and for the Commissioner General to refund any excess remaining to the person.
In an effort to improve the efficiency in administering taxes by Guyana Revenue Authority, the Finance Minister announced the amendment to the Tax Act to ensure that prior to the issuance of all licences for public use, including licences to conduct forms of trade and business, the applicant has complied with his/her obligations to file annual returns and paid, or has made arrangements to pay, all taxes due and payable.
He also declared an amendment to the Customs Act to provide for the non grant of exemptions to an applicant unless all outstanding tax returns are filed in accordance with the Income Tax Act, and all taxes have been paid or satisfactory arrangements have been made to pay such taxes.
The Finance Minister told the House of his intentions to amend a raft of legislation, the effect of which is to increase the fees paid to obtain various licences. The pieces of legislation are: Regulations under the Auctioneer Act, Regulations under Hucksters Licencing and Control Act, Regulations made under Miscellaneous Licences Act, Regulations made under the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, Regulations made under the Rice Factories Act and the Regulations made under the Tax Act
He also proposed to amend Section 19 of the Firearms Act Cap 16:05 to increase the annual fee for firearm licences as follows:
|Type of Licence||Current Fee ($)||New Fee ($)|
Conscious of the need to provide incentives to the manufacturing sector, in order for it to become competitive, and, as a further measure to boost incomes of households, the Finance Minister proposed to increase the rebate granted by the Guyana Power and Light Company from 10 percent to 15 percent, with effect from April 1, 2016.
With effect from February 1, 2016, Jordan said that the prices of fuel sold by Guyana Oil Company (GUYOIL) will be reduced as follows:
|Type of Fuel||Current Retail Price/Litre ($)||New Retail Price/Gal($)|
The Finance Minister also proposed to amend the Income Tax Act to increase the income tax threshold to $660,000, from $600,000. With this measure, he said that over 68,000 workers will be removed from the income tax roll, in addition to the fact that workers have an additional disposable income annually.
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