Guyana first country to roll out COVID-19 shutdown without cohesive Economic Relief Measures implemented – Nigel Hinds

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By Nigel Hinds

With our country’s democratic electoral system being bludgeoned on a daily basis; we now have an illegitimate government; imposing a one-month countrywide lockdown to combat the spread of the Coronavirus, without any planned economic relief measures in place. While the negative consequences of the COVID-19 have been tragic and ought not to be underestimated, it is worth noting that loss of life caused by COVID-19 has not occurred in over 50 countries, including Barbados, French Guiana, Grenada, Haiti, Antigua, Saint Lucia, Somalia and Dominica to name a few. Those who oppose dictatorship in Guyana must continue to expose and resist draconian measures that are less about preventing the spread of COVID-19 and more about propping up a dictatorship.

As at March 31, 2020 – over 45 countries have announced economic relief measures that were summarized and published by the Tax Foundation of the United States. The following economic relief measures were identified for consideration by stakeholders in Guyana to alleviate the major economic downturn that Guyana is already experiencing, as a result of the coronavirus that has caused much loss of life and disrupted the global economy.

Economic Relief Proposal.

  • Delay of Tax Filings:
  1. Six-month deferral for employee tax, personal tax, corporate tax and property tax.
  2. Value Added Tax returns deferred for periods thru to 12/31/2020.
  3. Defer National Insurance Scheme Contributions for six-Months, without loss of benefits.

 

  • Employee Taxes:
  1. Remove PAYE on Wages up to GY$300,000, thru to 12/31/2020
  2. No Interest or Penalties for late payments of any tax made in 2020.

 

  • Business Taxes:
  1. No Interest or Penalties for late payments of any tax made in 2020.
  2. Suspend all Tax Audits.
  3. No Advance Income Tax for Year of Assessment 2020.
  4. Introduce Two-Year Loss Carry Back.
  5. Increase Loss Carry forward to 100%.
  6. Waive business and corporate taxes for the first half of 2020 to afford businesses the liquidity to operate on reduced revenue.

 

  • Consumption Taxes:
  1. No Interest or Penalties for late payments of any tax made in 2020.
  2. Reduce VAT from 14% to 7%.
  3. Accelerate payment of VAT refunds.
  4. Removal of all import taxes on products related to addressing the outbreak.

 

  • Other
  1. Aid package for individuals and businesses of GY$30 Billion, including loans and direct subsidies.
  2. 80% wage subsidy for affected workers, sourced from the Aid Package.
  3. Guaranteed Bank Loans.
  4. Cut Bank Reserve Requirements by 50%.
  5. Automatic minimum increase of 50% on overdraft limit.
  6. Defer Loan Repayments for 6 months
  7. Allow interest rates of 5% for all borrowers for six months, then move rates up to a maximum of 10% thereafter on a risk assessed basis.
  8. Immediate removal of all taxes on fuel; then mandate fuel companies to reflect the global reduction in fuel prices and the fuel tax reduction in their pricing.
  9. Cut electricity rates by 50% for six months, with gradual increases thereafter.
  10. No Disconnections of Data Plans, Electricity Services or Water Services for three months.
  11. Remove all taxes from Electricity Services, Data Plans and Water Services.
  12. Direct delivery of Old Age Pensions.
  13. Seek economic relief funding from International Organizations and similar bilateral and multilateral support.
  14. Cash and in-kind subsidy to the poor and vulnerable.

 

Implementing a planned economic relief program for Guyana is the whole purpose of providing this draft economic relief proposal for our local and national representatives to expand or amend.