One of the loopholes in the re-migrant scheme is now tightened with the amendment of the Customs Bill. The amendment of the Bill was moved by Finance Minister Winston Jordan on Thursday in the 112th sitting of the National Assembly of the 11th Parliament.
According to the Department of Public Information (DPI), Minister Jordan highlighted that the amendment proposes a tax credit of $5 million to be given to the re-migrants. He said this allows the re-migrant to bring as many vehicles as possible but once it exceeds the credit amount, they will have to pay the difference in duties.
“You do not have to worry anymore about the vehicles being in your possession for six months, you can come to Guyana and you can buy your vehicle within six months of arriving in Guyana. This allows us to get around all the chicanery of trying to show that you had it in your possession for six months,” the Minister explained.
The scheme, he said, has not worked well, especially as it relates to the question of who exactly is a re-migrant and if those individuals comply with the criteria of a re-migrants. Minister Jordan added that the GRA has its limitations and find it hard to ensure that every re-migrant is complying with the laws.
In addition, the Finance Minister underscored that many re-migrants use the scheme to bring home vehicles and televisions among other things to be sold with those individuals spending less than two weeks in the country. However, the Bill seeks only to deal with vehicles.
Upon investigation, the Minister said it was found that some persons failed to fulfil many of the criteria to be regarded as a re-migrant.
Students will also benefit from the amendment, Minister Jordan pointed out. He noted that they too can qualify as re-migrants if they can show that they had attended continuously, for at least three years, an educational institution abroad. Such persons will be given all rights and can have access to all rights including purchasing of vehicles when they return home.
The Minister said that despite the amendment to the Bill, the scheme will continue as it is the Government’s aim to attract persons from abroad, especially as oil and gas production nears.
Another amendment to the Bill will see the GRA paying citizens all Income Tax refunds owed. The monies due, however, will not come from budgeted sums, but from current revenue collected. The Minister noted that “hopefully this will clear up a backlog of refunds where people keep asking GRA for their monies and they cannot get it”.