By Ramona Luthi
“This year is quite an historic year. It is the year we celebrate our 50th Anniversary as an independent nation, the year we have two APNU/AFC budgets, but the people will remember this as the year of taxes.”
These were the impactful words of Former Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony earlier yesterday during the Budget 2017 debates in the National Assembly.
Anthony stated that close to two hundred different tax implementations have been made since the administration took power, while sarcastically voicing “what a gift for the 50th Anniversary from the APNU/AFC to the people of this country”.
Additionally, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) member sent the House into an uproar when he stated that for items to be removed from the tax exemption list, is the same as taxing “safe sex”, as he referred to the fact that condoms will now cost 14% more.
The Opposition member posited that HIV Prevention programmes will be less effective because condoms – that are encouraged for safe sex – will now cost more to the average man. He added that Family Planning Initiatives will take a back seat as the same increase will apply for contraceptives.
He also pointed out how thoughtless it was for the Government to tax water and electricity.
Dr Anthony continued that Private Hospitals will now be charging Guyanese 14% VAT on medical services and supplies, reiterating what was mentioned by Former Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand earlier in the debates that citizens can’t afford to get sick anymore.
Furthermore, he informed the House that the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), together with the World Health Organisation (WHO) have voiced their concerns regarding this, while also making calls for the implementation to be reversed.
“I am totally at a loss to describe the level of callousness by this administration…For years we have been complying from what the WHO and PAHO wants, and now [the new administration] has reversed all that,” he stated.
Dr Anthony also asserted that the APNU/AFC Government needs to show more consideration towards Guyana’s people, especially the sickly, elderly, differently abled and children.
He further contended that the implementation of many factors mentioned in Budget 2017 will have a devastating impact on the citizens.