Latest update March 25th, 2023 12:57 AM
Feb 27, 2016 News
-Insists it is part and parcel of Government’s plans to bring transparency and accountability to how concessions are granted
By Kiana Wilburg
In an effort to return a system of transparency and accountability to the granting of concessions, Finance
Minister, Winston Jordan brought before the National Assembly yesterday, the Financial Administration and Audit (Amendment) Bill 2016.
This Bill, he explained, seeks to amend Section Six of the Financial Administration and Audit Act , by inserting a new subsection to permit the exemption by order from the payment of want-of-entry charges , stamp duty and environmental tax of Diplomatic , Consular International, Charitable and Non-Profit Organizations and other entities listed in the amendment.
Jordan said that while this modification may be seen as a simple one, it has wider connotations. He said that it is part of Government’s plans to bring transparency and accountability to how concessions are granted.
The Finance Minister recalled giving the keynote address to the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) Dinner and Award Ceremony last year when he indicated that Government wants no one “coming and lining up and asking for various concessions.”
He reiterated that the Bill is just part of a series of things they will enshrine in the law, as a way of letting investors know what they can get upfront. He said that the previous administration did make some attempt to implement a similar procedure in 2003 but that he is unaware why they were unable to follow through.
The Finance Minister said, too, that Government wants to remove the idea of discretionary powers when it comes to concessions. He also wants to bring various aspects of the law in line with certain agreements that the State is expected to follow.
He said, “Under the Vienne Convention, all accredited diplomats are exempt from various taxes and so on. That having said, our Customs laws and so forth have to reflect that fact…We want to make certain that we are making transparent, these exemptions that so far are technically being granted illegally.”
But some members of the Opposition were puzzled by Jordan’s presentation. Former Attorney General (AG), Anil Nandlall was one.
He told the House that when he listened to Jordan he was lost since the Bill seeks to do one thing but the Finance Minister is talking about investors.
Nandlall argued that the Act which Jordan sought to amend was repealed and sections referred to in the Bill actually come from the Audit Act. He challenged the Finance Minister to make the necessary clarifications before the House.
The Finance Minister said, “Sometimes we have a difficulty in the House that people take words or phrases of your interventions and seek to infer things you never did say. I made it clear in my introduction that the attempt here is to enshrine in law certain concessions that are being given on a discretionary level.
“What we are doing is to bring transparency to the way certain concessions are being given out. This is part of the big picture.”
The Member of Parliament also said that Nandlall’s statements bring aspersions upon the Chief Parliamentary Counsel and his staff. He stressed that every Bill brought before the House is carefully looked at.
Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira then rose on a point of order stating that Nandlall never intended his comments to bring any disrespect to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel.
The Opposition Member ignored the sound of gavel being struck several times by House Speaker, Dr. Barton Scotland.
Dr. Scotland said that he could not fathom how a point of order could “deteriorate” into a speech.
The House Speaker scolded the Opposition Member for her behaviour stating that it is not something he expects from a senior Parliamentarian.
He then declared the floor open for the Finance Minister to make his remarks. Jordan did not bother to comment further on the statements by the Opposition and moved for the Bill to go to a vote.
It was here that Nandlall then rose to his feet asking the Speaker whether his concern was going to be addressed.
In spite of the disagreements, the Bill was passed.
They are being paid while we are being played…your pain is their gain!
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