Ministry to work with seafood companies

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha says businesses are already planning to capitalise on the removal of value-added tax (VAT) from machinery and supplies in the agriculture sector to increase investments in their business.

Agriculture had declined tremendously due to mismanagement under the Coalition Government, forcing the PPP/C administration to take drastic action to revive the industry when assumed office, he said.   

“When we came into office, we basically had to start all over again because if you cannot produce, you cannot generate wealth. This is why, with this emergency budget, we’ve reversed things like land rental rates, drainage and irrigation charges and removed VAT from agriculture inputs to their 2014 to early 2015 costs,” Minister Mustapha said.

The Minister made these remarks, today, following a tour of the Pritipaul Singh Investment (PSI) Incorporated seafood processing plant at McDoom, East Bank Demerara. He said he was pleased with the operation there, and with the plans to expand value-added production.

“I am impressed with the operation here. As a Government, we recognise the contribution of the fishing industry and that is why we put measures in place to relief those harsh ones which were implemented by the previous Administration,” Minister Mustapha said. 

He pledged that the Ministry’s fisheries department will work closely with PSI and other businesses in the industry to secure new markets which will ensure the livelihoods of small fishermen. There are 15,000 people directly involved in the fisheries sector.

“[The Ministry] will do our best to promote you within the fisher-folk community so that the small men can have a ready and stable market for their produce,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile, PSI Managing Director, Mr. Pritipaul Singh Snr., told DPI that the company’s goal is to expand operations, distribute the highest quality of seafoods, and create employment for more Guyanese.  

Minister Mustapha described it as “a model operation” and “with the contribution that it’s making in terms of creating employment for people, rest assured that Government will continue to support you. With the investment you are making, this will have a direct impact on the economy.”

PSI currently has a workforce of over 1,500. The company also boasts its own ice factory, power generation plant and packaging facility. It supplies 11 nations within Asia, Caribbean, Europe and North America with fresh and packaged seafood. The company plans to increase its value-added production of frozen (packaged) shrimp, sea-bob, prawns and fish including tuna and other species. PSI generates approximately 15 million pounds of seafood per annum.

Mr. Singh lauded the Government’s removal of the VAT on machinery and equipment in the Emergency Budget 2020. He said he uses several pieces of machinery, which no longer has the tax attached, in his daily operations. The lower costs will allow him to make a greater investment in his business, he said.  

“With the previous Administration, we had about eight-fold increases in prices for licence and other expenditures and now that everything is reversed, that will be a tremendous gain,” Mr. Singh said.  

The Managing Director plans to invest his savings in his workers, increasing salaries and benefits. He believes that the budgetary measure will allow employers to put more money into the pockets of their staff, which will help to further stimulate the economy.

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