GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thursday July 6, 2017 – The Guyana Government has reported that tax revenues are down, rejecting claims that it is cashing in on recent tax increases on water and electricity.
Business leaders have complained about the increase in their operational costs, but Finance Minister Winston Jordan has suggested that Government has been the main loser.
Speaking at a recent dinner hosted by the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association, Jordan said up to May 31, this year’s revenue from the Value Added Tax was down by GYD$1.8 billion (US$8.7 million), when compared to 2016, and income tax had fallen by GYD$1.2 billion (US$5.8 million) compared to the same year.
“We are not raking in any money here,” he maintained.
Jordan explained that the treasury had managed to stay afloat because the Revenue Authority had collected more arrears in recent months.
“What we are raking in at the moment is arrears. Arrears have been up by GUY$4.3 billion (US$20.9 million). That is what has saved us so far – the collection of arrears for some previously…non-compliant sectors, so to speak,” he said.
Jordan chided the business sector for complaining about the new taxes on utilities, charging that some of them were yet to make payments.
“I could not understand how businessmen could say how the Value Added Tax on water is killing them. They were not paying the Value Added Tax as of the end of May because GWI [Guyana Water Inc] has claimed they have to bring somebody from Britain to change the computer system that they have in there to accommodate the Value Added Tax,” he said.
The Finance Minister urged Guyanese to stop the “romanticism” with certain things, such as the sugar industry and hydro-electricity, as well as “anecdotes” such as the impact of taxation on the private sector.
Jordan stressed, however, that Government would not turn a blind eye to business’ concerns and he pledged to lead efforts to strengthen Government’s partnership with the private sector, including holding more dialogue with the Private Sector Commission and the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association.
“I am willing to take to Cabinet, a proposal for three joint roundtables annually, on mutually agreed agendas, involving a sub-group of key Ministers. I am proposing a sector-focused approach,” he said.