Rice farmers and producers on Thursday protested the Ministry of Finance office calling on Government to review its tax policies on fuel with a view to ease the “burden” on the productive sector.
At the protest demonstration, the Guyana Rice Producers Association (RPA) urged Government to reintroduce a sliding tax rate for rice farmers in light of the high cost of fuel and especially in light of ongoing period of land preparation.
While on the protest line, General Secretary of the RPA Dharamkumar Seeraj told the media that the sliding tax rate method is easy and would not add any unnecessary burden to the budget.
“The way it works is that when the price for fuel goes up on the World Market, the tax comes down so the price at the pump remains the same so it’s not rocket science and most importantly from the Government’s point of view, this will not affect the target budgeted for,” he explained.
Further, Seeraj reasoned that if the price for fuel increases and Government reduces the percentage of taxes on fuel, they can still achieve their target.
“If you implement that sliding rate, the country benefits. Production will go up, you’ll become more competitive on the export market and that is what a country needs,” he asserted.
The RPA said farmers, who are currently harvesting, have been experiencing an increase in transportation costs from an average of $200 to $800 per bag, because access to their farmlands is poor.
Additionally, most farmers are currently involved in land preparation exercises and sowing of their fields, where most fuel is being used compared to the crop duration, so the increase is coming at a really bad time for the farmers.
As reported, the fuel woes are compounded by challenges of readily accessing fertilisers owing to financial challenges.
The RPA has since said that the “good life” that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government promised was wanting, adding that the Administration’s inaction on the matter was not an option.
In April 2017, Mahaica farmers, whose main source of income is rice, along with cash crops, said that the taxation measures were “harsh” to them.
The farmers said then that the Government has removed the list of exempted and zero-rated Value Added Tax (VAT) items, causing them to have to increase their cash crop prices, much to the dissatisfaction of their customers.
The cost of production, they noted, extended to an increase in payment for fertilisers, insecticides and weedicides.