The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) says though it is “satisfied and very encouraged by many aspects” of the National Budget it still expects to see comprehensive tax reform incorporated into it.
In a press release yesterday, the GCCI said it is pleased with the impressive performance of the economy in 2011 which recorded a positive economic growth rate of 5.4%. “This marks the sixth consecutive year that the economy has shown positive growth and the Chamber looks forward to similar fortune and accomplishment this year,” the release said. It is also satisfied with the strong macroeconomic environment that has been maintained over the years which “confers enormous optimism for our local businesses as well as for foreign investors.”
The GCCI also noted that it was important to acknowledge the provisions extended to the small business sector in the coming years to address critical issues such as training and capacity building and financing for small and medium sized businesses. The US$1.7 million earmarked this year for the operationalisation of the Small Business Development Fund is one such initiative that is wholly endorsed by the Chamber.
Despite the lowering of the Corporation Tax in 2011, central government was still able to record a three per cent increase in corporation taxes amounting to $17.5 billion. GCCI continues to call for further review of the corporate tax structure with the aim of further reductions in the rate.
However, it did note that the 2012 Budget contains provisions that address some of the social needs of society. There are increases in the income tax threshold; public assistance and old age pensions; significant subsidies extended to the Guyana Power and Light to suppress electricity cost to benefit consumers as well as increases in funding for the housing sector to improve access to affordable housing, infrastructure and the regularization of squatter settlements.
At the same time, the GCCI noted that it will be reviewing the Budget in greater detail in the coming weeks with a view to identifying specific initiatives that will have an impact on businesses and society and also areas where government still needs to focus on to ensure sustained development.