By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Eddie Boyer, and Executive Member, Ramesh
Persaud, spoke recently, at a press conference, about the intricacies of Budget 2017.
“It is not a simplified budget. It is not clear, neither is it precise; it leaves you going back wondering what can they possibly mean.”
Boyer continued, “We wanted a simplified budget instead, something that the ordinary man can understand when he is the one who is going to carry the brunt of the burden.”
The Chairman said that the institution of tax and “stiff penalties” in the budget has left a bitter taste in the mouth of the private sector.
Boyer said that major interventions are usually expected from Governments when countries are going through a “slump.” He said that this is what Guyana is experiencing in terms of the reduction of the growth rate— high unemployment, crime; slowdown in business and low outputs from established revenue earners such as rice and sugar.
“Government interventions are expected to rescue the country; I did not see that intervention in the budget.” Persaud echoed Boyer’s sentiments.
He congratulated Finance Minister, Winston Jordan on his early Budget but questioned if the early presentation was a product of haste. The PSC member described Budget 2017 as a “give and take budget” but said that the government “took more than it actually gave.”
He expressed delight over incentives to promote a green economy. He said that this will encourage
more investments in the areas that offer incentives.
He also lauded the exemptions of customs duties and taxes on machinery and equipment to setup charging stations for electric vehicles; Exemptions of customs duties and taxes on greenhouses and component parts for use in the agricultural sector, the increase in minimum wage and the lowering of excise tax on hybrid and electrical vehicles. Persaud then turned his attention to some of the negatives in Budget 2017.
In this regard, the PSC member pointed to the restriction on used tyres and the imposition of an environmental levy of $10 per unit on the importers and local manufacturers of products using non-returnable metal, plastic or glass container of any alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage.
He also highlighted the restriction of Mortgage Interest Relief to loans up to $15 million as well as the introduction of a dual tax-rate for companies carrying out both commercial and non-commercial activities. It will contribute to inflation on commercial goods as profits margin will need to be maintained, he added.
Of course the imposition of Value Added Tax on water and electricity bill was mentioned as a negative. He said that this will be a burden on the poor as well as entrepreneurs.
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