Budget battle lines drawn

-President non-committal on amending estimates

As he defended the 2014 budget yesterday, President Donald Ramotar says that he cannot say if his government was prepared to amend the estimates and will “cross that bridge” when it comes to it.

The opposition has signalled that there will be cuts to the 2014 budget estimates but the  president says that he would not pre-empt and speculate on what would be disapproved and as such will determine what measures his government will make after proposed adjustments have been made.

“I know they did it in the past and (are)  capable of doing it again…but I am optimistic. I hope they vote for this (budget) if they don’t we will cross our bridges when we come to them…let’s wait and see,” said the President at a press conference yesterday at the Office of the President.

He was at the time responding to questions on his government’s plan should the opposition propose adjustments to the 2014 budget estimates.

Khemraj Ramjattan
Khemraj Ramjattan

In addition, he said that he was satisfied with the unchanged income tax threshold and would await a study to determine a way forward as it pertains to the Value Added Tax (VAT).

Both A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance for Change have signalled their disapproval of some aspects of this year’s budget and have said that they will not approve the proposed sums.

The leaders of both parties said that during the estimates they would be lobbying for increases in the income tax threshold and a reduction in VAT among other items they believe need changing.

“We have noticed several deficiencies already …I would say we are not setting out to cut but we are setting out to highlight and correct and approve those items that promote socio economic growth   and alleviate poverty and disapprove those items that impede development ,” Opposition Leader David Granger told Stabroek News yesterday.

Alliance for Change Leader Khemraj Ramjattan said that while making a case for items that his party had proposed for the budget there will also be cuts to some estimates.

“I have made it quite clear than GINA and NCN will be cut … and there will be some others but I know the specialty hospital is definitely going,” Ramjattan said.

Ramotar yesterday justified aspects of the 2014 budget saying he believed that it was targeted to cater for the populace’s benefit.

“The philosophical underpinning of the budget was to ensure that the broadest cross section of people would have benefited from the measure and secondly that we continue to create a conducive environment for social and economic growth in the country,” he said.

“The budget has captured our efforts to expand the economy,” Ramotar added.

Granger said that the budget was a skewed one and did not reflect conscious efforts to tackle the issues of poverty and low unemployment rates.

Further, he pointed out that his party was hoping that in this year’s budget there would have been a reduction in the Value Added Tax and an increase in the income tax threshold. However he said that this was not to be and he was “greatly disappointed” and would now be pushing for these measures to be implemented during the budget debate. “We would have thought there would be a reduction in VAT and the threshold. We thought that would at least go up but, nothing!” he exclaimed.

The AFC leader said that his party also expected a reduction in the 16% VAT and would also be making recommendations during the budget debate.

“Our points will be made in relation to the budget debates …A reduction of the VAT which is going to help everybody in the country, we want that. The previous year when he set up the tax review committee. I don’t know what studies they were to complete since mid last year when are they going to complete it… what is taking so long?   It is all a set of misrepresentation and we don’t talk believe one word of Donald Ramotar anymore,” he said.

Ramjattan said that he believes that a consensus on the estimates could have been reached before the budget was presented if government had held tripartite talks with his party and APNU. “These demands could have been implemented long time …we would have ensured it happened had there been consultations since the 1st of July last year.

“That is the way it should have been. We sit down and have tripartite talks but this government went ahead and it did all that they could to not make it happen so we are right back where we began…but we are analyzing the estimates and will make adjustments where we determine necessary,” he noted.

The president did note at the press conference that a tax review committee was set up and should be coming to the end of its analysis soon. “Long ago I had commissioned a study to do it (tax review) … I think that body is very close to finishing its work at this point and time …we had even attached a university to do a study with that body. That university has come out … so hopefully we can come to a conclusion and that will be able to advise on the way forward on the whole tax system,” the President stated.

“Tax is the lifeblood of government revenue so you don’t want to make a mistake with that so you want to handle it very, very carefully and I don’t think it’s probably the best to handle it at a every piecemeal way at this point and time,” he added.










Latest in Local News

default placeholder

Guyana Goldfields in deal to expand production

Gold production at the Canadian-owned Guyana Goldfields Inc (GGI) for the first half of this year has been estimated at 75,000 ounces and the company has entered an agreement to expand the capacity of its Aurora mine in Cuyuni/Mazaruni.

default placeholder

Stealth flight plane grounded in Anguilla

One of two planes that left Guyana illegally under the cover of darkness on Saturday has been given clearance to leave Anguilla and the other was grounded in the British overseas territory, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson has said.

The remains of the home Satesh Jagmohan was occupying when tragedy struck

De Willem teen burns to death in house fire

A 19-year-old labourer perished in a mysterious fire which destroyed a two-bedroom house in the De Willem, West Coast Demerara (WCD) squatting area on Saturday night.

default placeholder

ExxonMobil set to drill more oil wells

American oil firm ExxonMobil will be drilling more wells after an appraisal well confirmed the presence of a significant deposit of oil in the location close to where the first well was drilled.

default placeholder

Implement anti-discrimination laws quickly – outgoing US Embassy Deputy

It is important that Guyana move quickly to enact anti-discrimination laws as discrimination and homophobia “is a very real problem” for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LBGT) community here, outgoing Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy here, Bryan Hunt has said.

Ishaan Caines

Coverden cop dies in Bamia accident

A police rank died on Saturday afternoon after he lost control of the car he was driving and it flipped over in the vicinity of the Bamia Creek on the Linden/Soesdyke highway.

A section of the gathering (Ministry of the Presidency photo)

Protected zones to be set up in all 10 regions

President David Granger on Friday said that protected areas will be established in all 10 regions of the country. The Ministry of the Presidency said in a release on Saturday that he was speaking at the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana’s (THAG) President’s Awards Ceremony 2016.

default placeholder

GPL invites bids for 11 MW Anna Regina plant

The Guyana Power and Light is inviting bids for the construction of an 11 MW plant at Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast and one for 5.5 MW at Canefield on the East Berbice.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: