Instead of admitting that they are afflicted with a disability, some persons would much rather remain in denial. This, however, does not augur well for the National Commission on Disabilities [NCD’]s data gathering process.
This observation was made by member of the Guyana Council of Persons with Disabilities, Ganesh Singh, who also doubles as an Executive Member of the Guyana Society for the Blind, and has a close relationship with the Commission as a result.
Singh was at the time making reference to the findings of a recent survey conducted by the Commission which scrutinised the various disabilities across the regions.
Although the general data have not been officially analysed, Singh said that he has personally sought to analyse the data pertaining to the blind and visually impaired faction. Singh, who himself is among the country’s blind statistics, has deduced that the findings are not at all alarming.
“To be honest, it was what we really expected,” said Singh. But there is a plausible reason for this, he went on to explain.
“There are still persons living in Guyana who are still not captured…who I believe are living in denial. So I am sure a lot of persons were not captured because they did not want to be a part of that survey and accept that they have a visual disability,” Ganesh speculated.
According to him, “They might be seeing but have a lot of difficulty seeing but they still don’t want to accept that they have a visual impairment.”
In this regard, he expressed his belief that there is still under-reporting of the disabled population, “because of the culture that exists that people do not want to accept that they have a disability.”
But there have been deliberate tactics set in motion to address this dilemma, Singh said. This has manifested, he related, through Government’s tightening of the way that persons with disabilities are able to access services available to them.
“Government has been making some efforts in this aspect to ensure that persons who want to access Government services must be registered with the Commission. There are people who don’t want to accept that they have a disability but yet still they want to benefit from these services, so in order for them to benefit they have to be registered,” Singh quipped.
Registering with the Commission attracts no cost.
Recently the Guyana Revenue Authority [GRA] announced that persons with disabilities are eligible for customs and VAT exemptions. But as disclosed by Singh, these persons are only eligible if they are registered with the Commission.
Among the items for which customs and VAT exemptions can be accessed are vehicles and phones and, according to GRA, persons must first identify their item of choice then go to http://www.gra.gov.gy/publications/tax-policies/119-tax-exemptions-policies in order to download and print an exemption application form. Persons can also uplift the relevant form at the Commission’s Croal Street, Georgetown office.
Also, once an individual with a disability is desirous of accessing the GRA exemptions, the Commission is tasked with sending them to a medical specialist to certify their disability. The related document, in addition to the exemption application form, is then sent back to the Commission.
The Commission is expected to then prepare a package of documents which is taken to an ASYCUDA-trained Customs Broker. The Broker in turn is required to upload the documents to the ASYCUDA system which is accessed by GRA.
Once the foregoing steps are properly completed, GRA then conducts an investigation of its own and informs the Commission of its findings, after which the necessary purchase can be made.
According to Singh, based on unofficial information, a few persons have already sought to access the GRA exemptions.
“About two weeks or so ago, about four persons applied for duty free exemptions from GRA,” Singh shared.
These individuals with visual disabilities were not previously registered with the Commission, “so I am sure with this, more persons [with disabilities] will be eventually captured,” Singh theorised.
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