Disability community lauds new measures in 2019 budget

─ says govt more sensitive to persons living with disabilities 

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Members of the disability community in Guyana have commended the Coalition Government for the special interest it has placed on their lives in the 2019 National Budget. They say that the administration is much more sensitive to persons living with disabilities.

For the first time, such persons will be able to purchase their own vehicles, free of excise duty and Value Added Tax (VAT). They will also be granted tax rebates on handsets with accessibility features, allowing visually and hearing-impaired persons to afford smartphones.

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordon made the announcement on Monday during the presentation of the 2019 budget.

The announcement caught on quickly and several persons with disabilities said they are very excited about the move.

Chairman (ag) of Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities in Guyana, Cecil Morris told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that the measure will especially aid organisations in acquiring vehicles to transport their members. Morris said this proves that government is aware of the situation of persons living with disabilities in Guyana.

“It would help persons with disabilities to access more of the internet. Transportation is a big thing in Guyana for persons with living disabilities. Government is being more sensitive to what is happening in the disability movement in Guyana and we are happy that they are coming on board and they can see fit to do things that can benefit persons with a disability more”

Leroy Phillips, a volunteer on the National Commission on Disability, said that government has made a stellar move with the two new developments.

“Persons who wish to own their own car, their own vans, or trucks, can now have those designed in a manner to accommodate them. I look forward to being able to take advantage of that provision.”

Phillips also spoke of the many benefits that will be had through the acquisition of smartphones, free of tax.

Disability rights advocate, Ganesh Singh said persons with disabilities already face challenges utilising the services of public transportation. He said whoever made the recommendation to the government on behalf of the community must be commended.

“Many persons, especially wheelchair users, have face difficulties moving from one location to another. Many taxis drivers do not want to take their wheelchairs, then minibuses, don’t want to carry wheelchairs. So, with the removal of the excise tax, they may be able to find the money to secure a vehicle to transport themselves,” he said.

Minister Jordan noted, however, that the Commission representing persons with living with disabilities must certify that the person, the vehicle and the handset are eligible for the concessions.

The minister said the two initiatives solidify the government’s commitment to equity and inclusion for all citizens through the use of Information and Communication Technology.

Alexis Rodney.

Images: Jameel Mohammed.

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