No increase in rates and taxes – Govt assures

Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Nigel Dharamlall

…collection rate needs to be improved

There are no plans by Government to throw Guyanese into additional hardship by increasing the rates and taxes paid to local organs.

This was clarified by Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall, who on Friday said that persons can look forward to their current rates remaining the same. He reminded that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic had opposed the decision to increase taxes by the previous coalition Administration and as such, will not be taking that same path.

“In terms of reevaluation, we complained against it and we’re not going to put any hardships onto any household so any reevaluation of properties is off the agenda at this point in time. We assure our citizens that there will be no increases in rates and taxes. It is one of our commitments that we made in our manifesto and we intend to uphold that,” the Minister told the media.

He pointed out that the primary challenge facing municipalities and other bodies is the collection rate, which is below 50 per cent. Instead of increasing the dues, Dharamlall said the focus should be placed on the method of collection.

“One of the issues of local democratic organs, specifically municipalities and NDCs, is the whole issue of management. The collection of rates and taxes is one of those issues. It is not the amount that they collect but the way in which it is collected. I believe that moving forward, these Councils will have to find a much more effective mechanism to collect rates and taxes.”

Nigel Dharamlall

It was highlighted that the increases would put an additional strain on persons who are fulfilling their responsibilities, while other evaluated stakeholders escape from this mandatory commitment.

The Minister contended, “Increasing rates and taxes is not the solution to the problem. It is really the collection. We have fallen into the trap of increasing rates and taxes when the collection rate in most municipalities and NDCs is not beyond 50 per cent. It is about getting closer to the 100 per cent, rather than increasing rates and taxes. What really happens by increasing taxes is that less than half of those who are assessed have to carry the burden.”

Last February, then Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had called out the coalition Administration for failing to keep their promise of lowering taxes, as the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) recently announced that some $226 billion was raked in for just last year.

Jagdeo recalled under the previous PPP Administration, the total taxes collected was $91 billion less. While the then Government would have assured citizens that these numbers would be lowered, it had, in fact, risen significantly. The projected number for 2019 was pegged at $88 billion but the actual figure was $3 billion more.

Later in June, it was announced that both residential and commercial stakeholders in Georgetown would have to pay an increased 10 per cent in taxes, after the coalition-controlled Mayor and City Council (M&CC) made a decision to hike these rates.

In an Official Gazette document published on June 27, 2020, it is stated that residential owners would be paying 44 per cent while commercial owners would be paying 275 per cent increases. This increase came at a time when many were experiencing grave economic hardship due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.