Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, in winding up the debate of Budget 2016 Friday evening in the National Assembly, said that no compliance certificates will have to be produced when applying for a motor vehicle or a driver’s licence.
“They (motor vehicle and drivers’ licences) are not governed by the Tax Act, they fall under the Motor Vehicle and Traffic Act therefore, the submissions of Income Tax returns is not needed for someone seeking to renew either licence,” Minister Jordon explained.
He said that the tax measures proposed in Budget 2016 are in keeping with the administration’s intention of seizing every opportunity to deliver the good life to all Guyanese.
Addressing the criticisms of the impending tax increases at the local government level, Jordan said that for more than 20 years rates and taxes have not been increased.
“The current residential rate is $8,000 per year; this cannot pay a grass cutter for one year…yet all services are being demanded…$500 at least is charged to remove garbage…Local governments cannot finance themselves with 1995 rates yet we want first class services,” Minister Jordan explained.
On the same issue, Jordan noted that a number of residential houses have converted their downstairs into commercial properties which means a different rate of tax should be applied hence the need to ensure all rates and other taxes owed to the government are collected.
As it relates to the restriction of vehicles older than eight years, the Finance Minister explained that only Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and motorcars are affected by this measure. Heavy duty vehicles are not included. Similarly, the notice of an imposition of a ban on the importation of used tyres is limited to the class of vehicles labeled SUV and motor cars.
To ensure that the tax measures are not applied in a manner that will do harm to persons who may be affected because of their trade, a six month grace period will be given. However, such persons will be required to pay 50% of their licence fee.
Minister Jordan explained that the opposition’s argument of where will the citizens get the money to pay their taxes from does not make sense as the law requires everyone who earns to first pay their income taxes. Where persons were not paying their income taxes but were earning, is a direct breach of the law which will no longer be tolerated.
On January 18 last, the Tax Reform Committee would have submitted a report on proposed recommendations to improve the country’s tax system. These recommendations according to the Finance Minister, will first be discussed by Cabinet to determine the way forward after which the details of the report will be made public.
According to the Finance Minister, Budget 2016 is a beginning of a number of actions that will be taken by the administration to bring about the good life. However, the demands placed on government cannot and will not be met unless and until equity in tax is met.
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