Local content law, tax reviews among GCCI 2019 national budget proposals

The passage of Local Content Legislation and adoption of a Local Content Policy to guide the development of local businesses in the Oil and Gas Industry were among several recommendations made by the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) for the 2019 national budget.

The GCCI on Friday noted that a team headed by Chamber President, Deodat Indar, met with Finance Minister Winston Jordan on September 12th to make its submissions for the budget.

In addition to Indar, the team included representatives from the business community in the areas of Shipping and Logistics, Construction, Tourism, Aviation, as well as technical staff with competencies in Finance, Economics, Engineering and Project Management.

Recommendations were made under the general areas of Agriculture Development; Security Sector Development; Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Development; E-commerce; Taxation, Duties and Charges; Oil and Gas; and Measures for improving the Financial Framework.

In the area of Agriculture, the GCCI recommended the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) from both pesticides and limestone as well as the removal of duty from the latter; a review of VAT on Agriculture and Manufacturing Machinery was also recommended.

Infrastructure wise, the GCCI made submissions for the upgrading of roadways, specifically the access roads in mining and Farm-to-Market areas; and the removal of taxes in the tourism and aviation sectors, with the intent of promoting tourism (e.g. the removal of VAT on trips to Kaieteur Falls).

Further to this, were recommendations to create a national committee to craft a master plan for infrastructure development of Guyana in preparation for the Oil and Gas economy and bridging rural-urban divide as well as the need for a review and operationalising of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).

Passage of an Electronic Transactions Act to provide a legal framework for conducting e-commerce, the revision of the role of Post Offices with a view of transforming them into IT and E-Commerce Hubs and the review of taxes on select private security equipment with a view of reduction in the rate were also recommended.

Submissions were also made to have the replenishment of Small Business Bureau Grant Financing of $300,000; a 40-60% range in government provided loan guarantees for small businesses via other commercial banks; provision of incentives for private sector investment in developmental projects and comprehensive review and upgrading of the Financial Legislation in the financial services sector, the statement said.

Recommendations were also made to gradually reduce Corporate Income Tax rate and Personal Income Tax over 10 years to 20 percent as well as amendments to the policies governing VAT on water and electricity, as well as those imposed on Inputs for Exports and the removal of the Common External Tariff (CET) on fuel imports.

“The Minister of Finance remained receptive to suggestions and indicated his satisfaction with the document submitted by the GCCI,” the statement concluded.

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