[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Ministry of Finance has commenced consultations on budget 2016, according to a release. Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, along with a team from his Ministry met with Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Major General (Rtd) Norman Mc. Lean and other representatives of the PSC on Thursday, November 05.
According to the release, among the issues raised was the Private Sector’s concern about the present state of the economy.
“In response, Minister Jordan reported that information coming out of the Bureau of Statistics shows that the outlook of the economy remains positive for the rest of the year while acknowledging that the first half of the year was affected by a downturn that began in 2014,” the release noted.
According to the Ministry, Jordan noted that it was revealed at a recent IMF/World Bank Annual Meeting he attended that world economic growth had slowed, and so the challenge of a slowdown in growth was not peculiar to Guyana.
“The Hon. Minister said that the latest Bank of Guyana statistics indicate that Private Sector Credit and Production have seen positive growth for the period January to October and projected that this growth will continue into the final quarter of 2015. Likewise, other positive economic indicators showed Real Estate Mortgage loans rising by 12 percent, and Construction and Engineering by nine percent.”
It was noted that on the production side, rice grew by 15 percent between January to July; sugar by four percent for the period January to October, while positive growth was recorded for diamonds, eggs, poultry meat and electricity, among other sectors.
According to the release, the PSC welcomed the news that Private Sector Credit had increased by six percent between January and September.
Minister Jordan told the PSC that the government was pursuing new markets for rice to which there have been very encouraging responses and also reminded them that for the first time in the recent past sugar production had exceeded the target.
“The PSC for its part discussed challenges with the VAT Refunds system employed by the GRA, to which the Minister pointed to the functioning Tax Reform Commission as well as the impending audit of the entity that will ensure that the challenges raised will be addressed satisfactorily.”
The Minister also said that his Ministry was collaborating closely with the Hon. Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, to improve the ease of doing business in Guyana, which in turn would result in an improvement in Guyana’s ranking in the Doing Business indicators.
It was noted that the PSC welcomed the improvements being made at Go-Invest to make it a truly ‘one stop agency’ but cautioned that the bureaucratic malaise of the past should not be continued.
The PSC also discussed other issues for consideration in the 2016 budget, including corporate, personal and property taxes – written submissions on these had been sent to the Tax Reform Commission; interior roads and airstrips; export marketing support; liberalization of the telecommunications sector and the National Competitiveness Strategy.
Minister Jordan and the PSC agreed to meet quarterly in the interest of closer collaboration.