Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and PPP/C Member of Parliament (MP), Irfaan Ali on Monday said that his party is anticipating a debate with regards to the motion of recommendations put forward to the National Assembly recently, as he believes they can boost the economy’s growth significantly if implemented by the Government.
A slew of Budget measures have been documented in a Parliamentary Motion piloted by Ali, along with party Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira.
The PPP/C Parliamentarians – in presenting the menu of measures – insisted Government’s tax-oriented approach to growth and policies is among the key factors responsible for the deteriorating economy and pointed to the introduction of increases for every category of taxes on income, property, production and consumption, and international trade, including environmental taxes.
In a press conference on Monday, Ali asserted that many of the 120 suggestions made by the Opposition Party to Government, are “aligned with the manifesto of the APNU-AFC.”
“We are urging the Government to have a debate on this motion…to implement what we would have recommended, or if you need clarification, or you need us to argue our position…let us have a debate urgently on this motion before the presentation of the National Budget,” he said.
As he read from the 10 paged motion, the PPP/C MP explained that there is an entire section designated to recommendations made to “stimulate the economy and raise job creation.”
Further, he said that the Opposition is calling on the Government to “restore the purchasing power of the people” by removing the imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on zero rated items.
“If you want improvement, you can’t just come and say no new taxes, you have to go back and remove some of those taxes that were imposed, removing some of those fees that were imposed in the 2015 and 2016 budget and put it back to the pre-2015 position,” he posited.
Ali was making reference to the recent pronouncement by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, that there would be no new taxes in Budget 2018. The Opposition had contended that the 200 new taxes alone that were imposed in the last budget were currently costing Guyanese $10 billion in disposable income.
“Remove the zero rated items that you now have VAT on so that it will help the mother who gotta take her children to school, a single parent or a family. It will help [with] medical supplies; it will help the conductors and the bus owners who have to pay new fees on their licences because all of the cost is not kept at the primary level, it is passed down to the consumer at the end of the day,” Ali explained.
Additionally, Ali highlighted that the motion also calls for the revocation of VAT on essential food items, water, electricity, household solar panels, education, goods and services, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, importation of inputs –raw materials for local manufacturers.
“We are saying that, let us go back to the removal of VAT on these items. This will help us stimulate the economy. It will bring in investment, it will encourage the manufacturing sector to expand their portfolio,” he asserted.
Among many other recommendations for various sectors, the motion is also requesting the tax on construction materials locally produced be removed since according to the former Housing Minister, this sector can stimulate the economy in the fastest way.
Meanwhile, when probed as to why a motion was necessary since the Opposition could have participated in the Budget 2018 consultations, Ali explained that in 2015, the PPP’s efforts to do so proved futile.
“In 2015, we were invited to the Budget consultations and we asked for a number of documents, none of it was submitted to us… To prepare the National Budget, you have to have a number of statistical documents, reports…You have to have those base documents from which you study. We did not get those documents requested…So we thought, listen, the best thing here is to have a national engagement,” he explained.