… as Nandlall highlights duplicity in Customs Amendment Bill
Non-alcoholic or alcoholic beverages and water stored in metal, plastic or glass containers will now attract a $10 levy, payable by local manufacturers and importers.
This was made possible with the passage of the Customs Amendment Bill 2016 which outlines that any person who fails to pay the levy will be liable to summary conviction to the sum of $50,000, together with a sum twice the amount of the levy payable.
According to the explanatory memorandum, the environmental levy will be charged per unit on nonreturnable containers of any beverage.
The Bill outlines that for those units which are proven to the satisfaction of Commissioner General as having been returned, reused, recycled or re-exported, a credit will be allowed towards the next payment due and excess credit will be carried forward to the next period until the credit has been fully utilised.
Under the previous Administration in the year 2013, the Opposition (now Government) was opposed to a $5 levy for importers and local manufacturers of beverages in non-biodegradable containers.
But many of the then Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) who argued against the $5 levy for importers of bottles harmful to the environment, threw their support behind the imposition of the $10 fee for all categories of bottles.
Opposition Member Anil Nandlall, during the debate on Thursday, raised concerns that these charges will be imposed without any prior consultation with stakeholders, particularly businessmen.
“You would have heard from the Minister (Jordan), not a single word did he mention about holding consultation with the Private Sector, with the manufacturing sector, with those who are engaged in the importation of goods about this tax, which is 100 per cent, than the tax we sought to impose,” he highlighted.
Nandlall pointed out also that Joseph Harmon, now State Minister, had argued in 2013 that “when a Government says that is has no problem, that the Private Sector has a problem with the tax… that the people have a problem with the tax, then that Government is not listening.”
The parliamentarian pondered out loud and challenged Harmon to explain why this concept is not being applied now that he sits in the Government benches.
Nandlall went on to remind that Harmon had expressed that the charges the People’s Progressive Party had proposed would have been passed on to the consumers who he claimed were already overtaxed.
But Nandlall posited that Harmon’s posture was in “2013, at a time when we did not have the 100 tax measures that the Finance Minister said someone told him about. This is the pre-100 tax era. If Mr Harmon was saying that in 2013 we were overtaxed, imagine we are now burdened, according to the Minister of Finance, his New York friend told him, with 100 more taxes…you could imagine what is the position now?”
Nandlall also pointed fingers to Khemraj Ramjattan (now Public Security Minister and Vice President) who had in 2013, expressed concerns about the fees being passed down to consumers.
“Well now the $10 will now go to the consumer Mr Ramjattan. What will you have to say to the consumer? They have to pay?”
Nandlall explained that his arguments were to demonstrate the double standards of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition, whose members were staunchly against a $5 levy, but now support $10 levy at a time when the financial burdens on the population are immense.
Nonetheless, the Finance Minister in his rebuttal contended that the taxes will impose responsible behaviour among the population to protect the environment.
“Consumers have two choices, throw the containers in the trash to be crushed or buried in a landfill and in the process lose their deposit or return them to the place of origin where, especially in the case of glass bottles, they can be recycle,” he explained. (Guyana Times)