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“VAT on the dead!” -Opposition question rationale behind removal of key items from Zero-Rated list

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Gail Teixeira, Opposition Chief Whip, today moved a motion for the restoration of Zero-Rated items in the Value-Added Tax (Amendment of Schedules) Order No. 18 of 2016 since according to the Opposition; the imposition of these amendments is likely to have an unfavourable effect on the people of Guyana and the economy.

The Opposition Chief Whip raised strong objections to the Government’s removal of critical items from the Zero-Rated list to the exempt list (vatable), which will see an increase in cost for the consumers.

Teixeira called for the order to be repealed and the old list reinstated.

School items such as geometry sets, pencils and certain religious books deemed as educational items, Teixeira reasoned should not be placed on the exempt list, emphasizing the added burden this will have on the consumers.

She also pointed to the fact that some over the counter drugs and charges for the handling of human remains now attract Value Added Tax, something she deemed as very unfair to the citizenry.

The Value Added Tax (Amendment of Schedules) Order 2016, Order 18 of 2016, was laid in the National Assembly on December 20, 2016.

The Parliamentary Opposition, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) is calling on the Government to repeal the Value-Added Tax (Amendment of Schedules) Order 2016, Order No. 18 of 2016 made under the Value Added Tax Act which comes into effect on February 1, 2017.

It is also calling on Finance Minister Winston Jordan, as the minister responsible to bring back into force the Schedules I and II existing prior to Order No. 18 of 2016, Value Added Tax (Amendment of Schedules) Order 2016 or the “old Zero-rated list.”

In his 2017 National Budget speech in December, Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan proposed to “expand the list of exempt items and eliminate all zero-rated items, with the exception of those pertaining to exports and manufacturing inputs.”

Commissioner-General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Godfrey Statia defending the move noting that this new direction was compelled by the need for more “equity in the system” since it was found to be replete with persistent failure by many VAT registrants to maintain proper records and unwarranted refund claims.

This point was today re-emphasized by Minister within the Finance Ministry, Jaipaul Sharma, who noted that the VAT was introduced to make people more responsible.  Sharma accused the Opposition of attempting to mislead the public, reminding that the Value Added Tax was introduced under the PPP/C Administration.

According to him, consumers will not have to pay, but Telecommunications company, Digicel today announced that as of February 1, 2017, additional charges would be incurred by its customers for data services, to facilitate the VAT on these services.

 

 

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