Budget 2018: Write-Offs For The Elite, Fluff For The Working Man
2018 has not only revealed that the almighty Coalition Government has had to bend to the will of the people, but it is now coming after any and every penny that is left to devour.
Finance Minister Winston Jordan on Mondaylast presented to the Guyanese nation his government’s spending plan for the coming year and if the slashes to the constitutional offices were not bad enough, Government - despite a promise of no new taxes - is now going after citizens’ properties with a countrywide re-evaluation campaign, a most sinister attempt to further raise revenues on the backs of the working class.
Economic Advisor to the Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Ramsaroop, this week provided a post-budget analysis of the 2018 Budget and bemoaned that despite its theme, “The Journey To The Good Life Continues,” Minister Jordan had to temper his oftentimes glowing remarks.
Dr Ramsaroop stated that: “I am not even going to deal with the $500 (US$2) increase for pensioners; even a child would be able to tell you that is laughable…$500 can’t even buy a Chinese food in Guyana.”
On the issue of the amnesty granted to delinquent taxpayers, Dr Ramsaroop pointed out that...“in this case you need to pay attention to companies that might have contributed heavily to the coalition and must now be repaid somehow.”
The Economic Advisor questioned just how many of the mass population are that tax delinquent to need an amnesty.
“It is clear as day, this is a move to wipe the debts clean for some of their corporate supporters.”
He recalled that the David Granger administration has been pushing a ‘Green State Agenda’, but “the Finance Minister in his very first announcement of measures in support of this agenda demonstrates not only a lack of what a green state development agenda is all about but that there are no more goodies left to give out.”
Dr Ramsaroop quipped... “imagine Jordan announces with fervor tax exemptions for the importation of vehicles that use LPG (Low Pressure Gas) …my first re- action was to laugh, who really will benefit from this, who will import such a vehicle?”
He said he was further baffled when Jordan announced exemptions for the waiver of taxes on machinery and equipment to set up refilling stations for LPG fuel.
“Here again the Minister is cleverly setting the stage for some of their supporters - I presume in the auto industry - to import special cars and to build special refueling stations tax free.”
According to Dr Ramsaroop: “There are literally only a handful of people in Guyana with the resources to do something like that…this can only be another ploy to reward some financiers; this will not benefit the masses.”
The analyst also noted that one of the measures announced by Minister Jordan, which is nothing but “huff and puff,” is the reduction of the rates of Excise Tax for the importation of vehicles but...“this is only applicable to tourism companies that have been operating for five years or more in specific regions.”
Dr Ramsaroop surmised that “here again a child would be able to tell you that this measure is nothing but a legal way of providing some sort of support to a selected few.”
Dr Ramsaroop further noted that when it comes to the promotion and growth of small businesses in Guyana that “the small businessman must surely be wondering what on earth is in the budget for me….all the Minister announced was the replenishment of an already meagre revolving fund - a fund already too tedious to access for many small business owners.”
Dr Ramsaroop said Government’s offer to now issue a twoyear provisional business licence for snackettes and grocery shops “simply means they are now going to have you in the system and will try to find a way to tax the puri, eggball and polourie you make to sell to make ends meet, it means even the sweetie bottle you have in your shop will now have to be inventoried so that Jordan could decide how much of that he gonna take in taxes.”
He was adamant that the budget presented is nothing but government continuing to “pay salaries and utility bills, making payments for projects started by the Peoples Progressive Party while it was still in office and looking for new ways to tax the working people in order to upkeep their lavish lifestyles.”
According to Dr Ramsaroop, “Jordan by his own admission essentially told the nation that the government does not know what it is doing and is still tinkering with the spending and revenues.”
According to Finance Minister Jordan... “in budget 2017 a suite of amendments were introduced to the VAT and Act Schedules, With the benefit of the thorough review it is recognized that additional amendments would be necessary to correct errors and omissions….,
“Imagine the Finance Minister now has to come to this country to say that the in making changes to the VAT and what it was charged on, they made some errors that have to be corrected! These people cannot be serious about running this country!” Dr Ramsaroop stated.
He reminded that last year’s budget was presented at $250B after which several billions more was taken out of the treasury and presented to the National Assembly in a Financial Paper.
Budget 2018 currently stands at $267B.
“Guyana has made transformational changes under four budgets now presented by this government - 2018 will be no different since this is an autocratic budget for the elite, with nothing but fluff for the working class and the poor,” Dr Ramsaroop concluded.