House passes legislation to bring Budget 2017 measures into law

GINA, GUYANA, Thursday, January 05, 2017

Guyana’s 65 Members of Parliament (MPs) in the National Assembly, just after 2:00pm this afternoon began deliberation for the passage of a total of 15 pieces of legislation that seek to bring several of the 2017 Budget measures into law.

The first session of today’s Sitting ended with the Government MPs voting for the passage of two of the legislation, and the Opposition MPs voicing their non-support of the measures, that they contained on the grounds that they would only create “hardship on the Guyanese people.”

The two Bills that received the House’s assent are the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2016 and the Custom (Amendment) Bill 2016.

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan

Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, who presented the Bills for passage, did so on the grounds that they provide for measures which are “win-wins” for both the Government and the people, and are not the “Dooms-Day,” Chicken Lick-ken” cause for fear that is being peddled by the Opposition MPs.”

Minister Jordan noted that tabling and passage of the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2016, for the taxpayers will result in a reduction of the “tedious barriers” faced, while attempting to transfer a motor vehicle. For the Government, the bills provide for revenue garnered from increased fees for the carrying out of the activity and the issuance of letters of authenticity and driving permits.

The Finance Minister also said that the Custom (Amendment) Bill 2016 which provides for the imposition of an environmental tax will ensure a healthy environment. He said that in addition to furthering the Government’s green agenda, the measures provided for by the Bill will also allow protection of the environment by imposing responsible behaviour on the consumers.

The Finance Minister noted that the onus would be on the consumer to either adapt the healthy environmental protection standards set out in the measure or be levied the tax for failing to do so.

The multi speakers from the Opposition side however, decried the imposition of taxes on the Guyanese people. MP Nigel Dharamlall, said that the measures speak to a decline in the country, “when the Government impose hardship measures on the citizens.”  He said that coupled with the increases in other areas, when effected, the measures would only increase the cost of doing business and the cost of living.

Speaking particularly on the Custom (Amendment) Bill 2016, MP, Anil Nandlall accused the Government of ‘piggy backing’ on the green policy started by the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C.) Nandlall said that the only difference was that the Government was seeking to green the country “on the back of the Guyanese people.” He said that the tax to be imposed would be too burdensome to the local manufacturers, and would affect the viability and profitability of their businesses.

His colleague, Juan Edghill called for the Government to defer the Custom Amendment Bill and to have consultation on its merits and de-merits before imposing the tax.

Minister Jordan in response asked that politics not trump rationality. He maintained that the measures were “win-win” for all the parties. He further reported that the environmental levy to be applied by the Custom (Amendment) Bill will be non-discriminatory, and will be applied across the board to all producers/importers. He pointed out that this will eradicate any further Court actions on the basis of discrimination, as was in the case of Rudisa beverages.

Below is a summation of the two pieces of legislation that were passed:

  1. Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2016 allows for the abolishment of Certificate of Compliance to process Transfer of Motor Vehicle Registration. It also dispenses with the requirement for Motor Vehicle Compliance. At the same time, it provides for increased fees for transfer of motor vehicle registration for motor cycles and other vehicles, ranging from $5,000 for motor cycles to $25,000 or 2% of sale price, whichever is higher.
  1. The Custom (Amendment) Bill 2016 allows for the imposition of an environmental levy of $10 per unit on the importers and local manufacturers of products using non-returnable metal, plastic or glass container of any alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage. The new environmental levy applies, across the board, on both imports and locally manufactured products, thus ensuring that Guyana complies with the provisions of Article 90 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

The 13 other Bills to be debated and passed are; Value-Added Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Capital Gains Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Corporation Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Income Tax (in aid of the Industry) (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Intoxicating Liquor Licencing (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Miscellaneous Licences  (Amendment) Bill 2016, Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016, Travel Voucher Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016, Finance Administration and Audit (Amendment) Bill 2016,  and Motions; Affirmation of the Travel Tax Regulations 2016, Affirmation of the Value-Added Tax (Amendment) Regulations 2016 and the Confirmation of the Customs (Amendment of Schedules Order 2016.

The expected passage of the remaining Bills would allow for the Coalition Government to fulfill several of its key measures provided for in Budget 2017. These include measures to support the Government’s green agenda, those to reduce inequality and increase disposal income, and those to spur economic growth, improve tax administration and enhance revenues.


By: Macalia Santos