…Gaskin describes Budget 2018 as people-oriented
Describing 2018 Budget as people-oriented, Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin says the Ministry of Business is preparing to roll out several initiatives next year, including preparations for the Electronic Single Window System, which is intended to automate and enhance the flow of information between businesses and regulatory agencies.
During the Debate of the 2018 Budget, Minister Gaskin said the Electronic Single Window System will receive budgetary funding for the first time with a $10M allocation from the capital budget.
He told the National Assembly that the monies are earmarked to fund preparatory work for the implementation of the system across Government agencies. The total cost of this project is $1.2B and will be funded by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
“So you will be able to get your licences, and get your permits, and get your approvals and clearances through a single electronic window where you will no longer have to submit the same information to ten different agencies and have them sequentially processed. You make one submission and it moves through the system automatically,” Gaskin stated.
He stated that Budget 2018 is a good-natured budget which has certain benevolence about it.
“It is people-focused. It pays a lot of attention to the needs of the man in the street. It tells him that he is relevant and that when money is being spent by this Government, he or she is going to be a beneficiary.”
Gaskin said that the personal income tax allowance of $720,000 per year will allow someone who works for half a year – and as a result would normally be entitled to deduct only half of the annual allowance from his earnings – to now deduct the entire annual allowance.
“This will allow persons who are laid off and unable to find another job in the short-term, to at least get back some of the taxes they paid while they were working.
Of course, they will have to file their tax returns to claim this allowance, but it still provides some relief for persons who have not been working, and encourages the filing of tax returns. This measure speaks to the ordinary man and woman, and lets them know that our Government is fair and considerate and wants the best for them,” Gaskin stated.
According to the Business Minister, the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on low-cost housing units below $6.5 million is another measure that identifies with the man in the street. He explained that this measure brings relief to those looking to invest in a home of their own, who may not have the wherewithal to qualify for a bigger loan.
“A lot of these are likely to be young people with limited means, to whom Government is saying that it is willing to forfeit hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tax revenues in order to enable them to become home owners,” Gaskin pointed out.
The Minister also noted that concessions to employers who provide day care services to their employees is another step towards reducing the burden on parents, mothers in particular, to arrange affordable and convenient day-care for their young children.
He described this as a win-win situation all around.
“These are all clear commitments to ordinary Guyanese people who are looking to enjoy their share of the good life,” Gaskin stated.
He said that the Ministry will continue its efforts to improve the ease of doing business in Guyana with the assistance of the IDB to the tune of $10M. The Minister foresees more work, next year, in the area of access to credit, through the establishment of a Secure Transaction Regime, which will make it easier to access credit using moveable collateral.
“This will entail a revision of the draft Movable Property Security Act; the establishment of a modern electronic registry for registering movable property; and the training of staff,” Gaskin noted.
Work will also be done in the area of getting construction permits, Minister Gaskin outlined, through collaboration with the Central Housing and Planning Authority, City Engineer’s Department and other agencies involved in issuing building permits.
He stated that work will continue on two new Industrial Estates in Lethem and in Belvedere, East Berbice. The Lethem Estate, Gaskin noted, is expected to create an economic hub that can attract investors interested in producing for the Brazilian market.
“Once the road from Lethem to the coast is finally constructed, this estate will have a reliable road link to the Atlantic coast and to international shipping lanes,” Gaskin told the National Assembly.
He said the Department of Industry has also begun the Design and Construction of two Business incubators on the two new industrial estates.
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