Feb 02, 2016 News
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is decrying the “exorbitant” hike in firearm licensing fees,
stating that for years these measures were studiously avoided. The party is also contending that these measures may be counter-productive and encourage the blackmarket trade of firearms. This is according to General Secretary of the PPP and former Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee.
It comes days after the 2016 budget presentation, when the announcement was made of the increase of annual licensing fees for shotguns, handguns, rifles and firearm dealers.
“In (previous) Governments there was stiff resistance, (which) became a matter of policy, not to increase revenues by increasing the licensing fees,” Rohee said yesterday. “Because we felt that increasing the fees for different licenses was not the best way to go for increasing revenue.”
According to Rohee, many middle income individuals depended on the prices that were charged. Rohee further noted that the fees were tailored with consideration given for the three types of individuals usually given priority for gun licenses.
“We (former PPP Government) adopted as a matter of policy that we would give priority to three categories of persons involved in three sectors,” he said. “These were the farmers, the Amerindians and the business people.”
“For years those fees were never increased,” Rohee said. “Raising revenues by raising the fees for licensing is a lazy way to raise revenue. Find other creative ways of doing it. The new firearm fees are exorbitant.”
He noted that from his time in the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry was never short on new firearm license applications. He used this reference to paint a picture of the amount of persons who would be affected.
On Friday, Minister of Finance Winston Jordan had announced that for Shotgun licences, the annual fee would be increased from $2000 to $5000, while for handguns it would be hiked from $5000 to $25000. For rifles, Jordan announced an increase from $5000 to $40000 while for firearm dealers, the licence is a whopping increase from $7500 to $150,000.
Rohee also called on his successor in public office, Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, to provide an update on steps that were being taken to have electronic applications for firearm licenses incorporated into the system.
“There were steps being taken for persons to apply electronically for firearm licenses,” Rohee said. “And a total review of the procedures for the application of firearm licenses was already established. All that was left to be done was to take these regulations to parliament for acceptance.”
“Now there was a debate about whether these regulations required the approval or non-approval of parliament,” he continued. “As far as I can recall, it did not require the approval of the parliament, all that was required was for them to be laid in the house. I would like to know where Ramjattan is now in respect to this matter.”
He said this in light of expectations that the new regulations would bring a greater degree of orderliness and detail to the firearm application process.
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