Sep 30, 2020 News
Making good on their word on returning money in the pockets of Guyanese, the administration of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), yesterday voted to reverse tax hikes, licensing fees, as well as reducing the interest on mortgages—which were imposed by the previous APNU+AFC regime.
The government’s move to reverse the slew of taxes follows less than a week after they passed the $330B emergency budget.
Notably, this budget was heavily opposed to by the Coalition, which argued that the financial plan was only suited for the private sector, and not the average Guyanese.
Seeking to further display their opposition and displeasure, the APNU+AFC signaled intentions to abstain from participation in the parliamentary debates, yesterday.
In response to their actions, Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, who was tasked with moving the amendments to the Bill, related that: “I would understand why they (the APNU+AFC) are not here because every Bill and every motion that will be addressed in this house would basically highlight their insensitive actions and how it hurt the ordinary man.”
Nonetheless, the National Assembly, comprised of Members of Parliament (MP), only from the ruling PPP/C, did not let the coalition’s absence impede on their historical amendments of the day.
Minister Edghill first moved to amend the Auctioneers Act. This was aimed at reducing the license fees for an auctioneer license by 50%, thereby reducing it from $40,000 to $23,500. The government is seeking to bring this into effect on October 1, 2020, Edghill noted.
“The increase from $40,000 from a mere $7,000 was done in 2016, which amounted to a 500% increase,” the Minister said. “This Bill and its effect of the reversal is part of our manifesto promises, because this was one of the draconian increases that was imposed by the APNU+AFC when they were really hurting the ordinary man by the imposition and increases of fees for license.”
He went on to explain that, “In effect, this will decrease the fees in the amount of $16,500, thereby allowing the auctioneer to reduce his fees to the public while at the same time proving more cash flow in the hands of the auctioneer and the Guyanese public.”
A quick scan of the records at the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) show that there was one license issued to an auctioneer in 2019, and in 2020 that was reduced to zero.
Edghill went on to the Corporation Tax (Amendment) Bill 2020 – Bill No. 3/2020 published on September 21, 2020. Edghill reminded the House that this bill seeks to remove corporation taxes on private and corporate institutions and private, corporate medical healthcare institutions. The amendment recommends the removal of the 25% of corporation taxes existing on those aforesaid intuitions.
Such removals, Edghill asserted, will be a more profitable venture to attract quality educational investments, which will result in greater access to learning opportunities across all fields of study. He went on to say that the 25% of corporation tax on private-corporate medical healthcare institutions and services will make it more affordable to the average Guyanese, while attracting specialty healthcare services to the country.
“The removal of the 25% on education will ensure that we are productive and to ensure that we have a skilled labour force we have to expand what already exist. In expanding those opportunities affordability is a big issue and we have to give people choices,” the minister articulated.
Further, this measure is intended to attract other institutions of learning—reputable and accredited institutions—to set up campuses in Guyana and offer those opportunities to Guyanese. This will also be a major source or earning foreign exchange because when those campuses are established in Guyana, students from around the world would make Guyana a “destination of choice”.
“Every student that comes here, because we are making it more attractive, they have to find apartments to live, so that opportunities for Guianese to provide those services,” he noted.
The House also passed the Income Tax Amendment Bill which seeks to amend section 20 (1) (a) of the Income Tax Act to provide mortgage interest relief. Edghill noted that with the amendment in place, homeowners will now have a deduction on interest paid on mortgage loans where it doesn’t exceed $30 million. The limit was previously set at $15 million by the APNU+AFC.
The other Bills debated and passed in keeping with the PPP/C’s stated commitment to bring relief to citizens include the, Value Added Tax Amendment Bill, Tax Amendment Bill, Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Amendment Bill, Miscellaneous Licenses and the Restorative Justice Bills.
Minister of Public World, Juan Edghill during his presentation to the National Assembly, yesterday
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