By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The APNU+AFC government is holding to its promise of reducing the Value Added Tax (VAT) and the toll of the Berbice River Bridge within its first 100 days in office.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon told a news conference on Thursday, June 11 that the two issues are being “actively considered in cabinet.”
As it relates to the reduction of VAT, the Minister noted that President David Granger has already instructed the National Assembly on its way forward, which will see the reduction a success.
However, in relation to the decrease in the bridge toll, Harmon explained that a number of experts are perusing various figures to make the reduction a reality.
“We haven’t reached a point in the conversations as yet where we say this is what’s going to happen. We already have a review and cabinet has already asked another set of experts to look at the figure with a view of reducing the toll,” the Minister of State said.
The reduction of the Berbice Bridge toll is a rather contentious issue, given the fact that it does not enjoy the support of the Private Sector. As a matter of fact, the APNU+AFC, while as the majority Opposition in Parliament during 2014, passed a motion calling on the then Public Works Minister, Robeson Benn to make the order, as is mandated, to reduce the exorbitant toll.
The motion was passed in the House despite strong objections by the then ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP), which said the move was a political one and an attack on private investment.
The motion was piloted by Harmon, who had proposed that for cars and minibuses which currently pay $2,200 to pay $ 1,000; for cycles to pass free and for four wheel drive vehicles to pay $3,000 instead of $4,000.
Harmon had said the current toll structure was a burden on Guyanese people and represents a serious devolution of wealth from the people of Berbice.