Miscellaneous Licenses (Amendment) Bill 2016 passed in House; Opposition says Gov’t extracting wealth from poor Guyanese
The Miscellaneous Licenses Amendment Bill 2016 which seeks to amend the Act by increasing most of the prescribed fines was this afternoon in the National Assembly passed by a Government majority with 29 Opposition Members voting against and 33 from the Government’s side.
The Opposition argued that these fees are huge and maintained the argument that it will place unwanted and additional burdens on ordinary and hardworking Guyanese.
According to the Opposition poverty and crime were not considered when these increases were deliberated and called on Government to rethink this move.
The new fines are viewed by the Opposition as burdensome penalties for trivial misdemeanors by poor people, which according to Opposition MP Vickram Bharrat would discourage entrepreneurship among persons in the lower income bracket.
Bharrat’s sentiments were supported by his colleague Yvonne Pearson, who noted that hardship has been “let loose” on Guyanese and she questioned “where is the good life that was promised to all Guyanese.”
Pearson again questioned why are the fees so high, given the fact that most of these persons are single parents, women and other vulnerable groups.
Some of these increases include: acting without licence from $300 to $10,000; painting of name on carriage or cart for hire from $15 to $5,000; notice to police by butcher in rural districts of intention to slaughter from $150 to $10,000; painting of number on local cart from $75 to $7,500, among other increases.
However, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan in whose name the Bill was tabled, said the increases are long overdue since it has been some 60 years since there were any. He reasoned that these fines would act as a deterrent and are still comparable with what obtained in the past.