Bud­get 2018: Write-Offs For The Elite, Fluff For The Work­ing Man

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

Bud­get

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.

Laugh­able

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.”

LPG

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.”

Small Busi­ness

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.”

Er­rors

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.

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