Banks DIH Ltd and Demerara Distillers Ltd the country’s two major beverage manufacturers are on a committee set up by the Guyana Manufacturers and Services Association (GMSA) to prepare a position paper on the proposed amendment to the Customs Act that will see local drinks’ manufacturers having to pay a tax on receptacles.
President of the GMSA Mohindra Chand told Stabroek Business in a telephone interview earlier this week that his organisation is already engaging Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh on the proposed amendment to the Customs legislation since the manufacturing sector is likely to be the most affected by it. “The committee, which includes our major beverage manufacturers is currently in the process of preparing a position paper on the issues that are dealt with in the draft legislation,” Singh said.
The proposed amendment to the existing legislation is believed to have been influenced by concerns expressed elsewhere in the region that the application of the existing tax only to companies importing beverages amounts to a prejudiced position the runs contrary to some of the country’s Caricom obligations; though Chand told Stabroek Business that the issue of the environmental tax went “way beyond its actual application”.
He said the manufacturing sector believed there was an obligation to apply the tax in such a manner that ensured a level playing field among the affected entities.
Meanwhile, Chand told Stabroek Business that both the GMSA and the public as a whole had a right to ask government just how monies raised through the environmental tax were spent. The issue of the tax surfaced late last year during an encounter between senior private sector officials and media operatives. Chand conceded that he had “no idea” how the monies garnered from the taxes were being spent but said the GMSA, as part of the private sector, intended to engage the government on the issue.