Finance officials meet GGMA and GCCI on fourth day of 2019 budget consultations

─ All concessions should be tied to performance – Minister Jordan

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan continued his series of 2019 National Budget consultations, at the ministry’s boardroom today. The minister and his budget team met with the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners’ Association (GGDMA) and the Georgetown Chambers of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) respectively.

At the end of the fourth day of consultations, Minister Jordan said, “The familiar game was played where requests were being made for significant concessions, in a number of areas but I keep stressing if we give concessions what are we getting in return? For them, that is an open book question. We promised them that we would take all of their recommendations and suggestions, within the context of Budget 2019, and to the extent that we could fulfil them, we will; partially or whole.”

The Finance Minister explained that there are some areas where concessions would not be possible, given the state of the economy, “but there are some areas that look promising. I’m sure we can have a 2019 Budget that reflects that some of these concessions were given,” he said.

Minister Jordan reminded that, “All concessions should be tied to performance. Concessions are given to incentivise particular sectors or products… We expect returns for concessions. We don’t just give concessions which are relief in certain areas but are an expense to the average citizen. We expect a benefit down the road, hence, we expect they will result in improved mining practices, improved declarations, hence improved foreign currency to the Bank of Guyana and taxes for the government. We would like to, first of all, grant concessions to tax compliant companies and secondly to see that they result in a benefit to the wider society.”

The day’s consultation began with presentations from the GGDMA led by Chairman Terrence Adams. A priority was the need to add the wording of “final tax” in the 2018 Budget, with regards to miners’, which he said, is creating great uncertainty within the sector. He explained that stakeholders are confused and “not sure what to really do.

The revised taxation structure, he opined was confusing prompting some miners to scale down their operations, “The accountants are telling you that based on the law, you have to prepare a submission of a ‘return’, come 2019. This what we had negotiated against in the 2018 Budget so we asked the minister to have it corrected.’’ The need to expedite repairs faster before the onset of the rainy seasons or even have miners contracted to maintain key and expand hinterland roads was also suggested. The removal of Value Added Taxes (VAT) on excavators and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), once certain levels of gold and diamond production declarations are achieved was discussed.

The GCCI’s consultations followed with executives making cases for tax relief in several sectors. These included the need for more farm to market roads (in Regions Three and Five), tax relief on pesticides, crafting of a master plan for infrastructure development to improve the rural-urban divide, passage of e-commerce legislation, tax reform, local content legislation’s passage and modernised financial services’ legislation.

Budget 2019 consultations continue on September 13 at the Finance Ministry’s boardroom from 2pm. 

By: Paul Mc Adam.

Images: Leon Leong.

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