…says the “good life” nothing but a slogan
Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram held no punches as the two-day Business Summit drew to a close at the Georgetown Marriott Hotel, and called for the private sector to show some spine when it comes to holding Government’s feet to the fire and asking tough questions of the Administration.
The vocal social activist was extremely critical of the APNU/AFC coalition (A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change) Administration, calling the “good life” nothing but a slogan.
Ram appeared as part of the panel discussion on taxation in Guyana, and used the occasion to not only lament the existence of “over concentration of taxation”, but the “runaway spending of Government.”
The Chartered Accountant told the business summit there can be no serious consideration of the taxation system in Guyana without also addressing its relationship to Government spending.
“We have had runaway public expenditure in this country,” said Ram.
Singling out the increased ministerial and other portfolios and Government agencies, Ram was livid that public administration is the most bloated it has even been in the nation’s history.
Ram said this is the largest Administration with the fewest technocrats and with the highest cost on the budget.
“Let’s not avoid the real issues…we have to look at the expenditure side of it,” according to Ram.
The straight-talking accountant was adamant “something is wrong with public expenditure management, and that is where the private sector needs to start this discussion.”
He suggested there was manipulation or irresponsible spending when he questioned how, at the end of June, a mere 28 per cent of a Ministry’s budget is expended; yet, by December, this jumps to 90 per cent.
Ram quipped: “Are these incapable managers suddenly experts?”
He told the Business Summit, “We are fooling ourselves if we talk about taxation” but ignore Government spending.
Ram used the occasion to also take aim at Finance Minister Winston Jordan, who has been seeking to peddle the notion that taxes have not been raised.
“I feel insulted as a member of the Tax Reform Committee,” Ram said.
He pointed, too, to the numerous increases, and even called some of the new fees “disguised taxation.”
Ram, also a practising Attorney-at-Law, told those in attendance that things have reached a stage where revenues are no longer being used only for the provision of public services, but the administration was in fact now running Government as a business for profit.
“To say we are not introducing any new taxes, I find that mind-boggling,” Ram lashed out at the Minister, saying his position would imply that there is currently an ideal tax system in place.
Drawing reference to remarks by Country Representative of the Inter-American Development Bank, the social activist reminded that Guyana has one of the worse cases of income and wealth inequality.
Taking a jab at the GRA, Ram reminded that it was only in 2015 last that an Annual Report was tabled for that key revenue collecting agency; that report, he emphasised, was dated 2010.