One less line for travellers following passage of Tax (Amendment) Bill – Winston Jordan
The Tax (Amendment) Bill 2016 which was passed tonight (Friday January 6, 2017) in the National Assembly will eliminate one of the many lines when travelling out of Guyana and take Guyana one step closer to being on par with its Caribbean counterparts.
According to the Explanatory Memorandum, the Bill “gives power to the Commissioner to appoint collection agents for the collection of travel tax and for the remission of the tax to the Commissioner. A carrier or a collection agent who fails to remit travel tax to the Commissioner or a carrier who fails to remit travel tax to an agent or the Commissioner shall be liable to the prescribed penalty.”
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan said the International Air Transport Association (IATA) will be collecting the travel tax on Government’s behalf at a percentage of 1.5 in commission or an equivalent of $10.9M.
The minister noted too that this Bill will allow for the reduction in the cost of the administrative burden on the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and human resources will now be redirected to other areas.
PPP/C Chief Whip Gail Teixeira called for the Bill to be reconsidered and then returned to the House, since things in her assessment do not add up. She rubbished the Minister’s argument about one less line, pointing out that persons would still have to line up to pay the $1,500 security tax. The Chief whip said while the travel tax is included in the airline ticket it has been increased to $3,500 from $2,500, questioning how that will improve the lives of travellers.
Teixeira questioned why a 1.5 percent commission will be paid to an external body when there are some 8 staff members who already collect over $2M in travel tax at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the Eugene F. Correira International Airport.
The Finance Minister in his response chastised the Opposition for misrepresenting what is being presented in the House in a bid to score “cheap political points.”