COVID-19: Private sector suggests range of measures to bring relief

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The Private Sector Commission (PSC) on Wednesday released a letter sent to Chairman of the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) on March 27 in which it proposed several economic measures to cushion the impacts of the COVID-19 measures on citizens.

See full letter below: 

Dear Mr. Nagamootoo,

Re: Proposed Economic Measures to cushion the economic effects of COVID-19

With reference to the captioned subject, the Private Sector Commission hereby proposes the following measures for urgent consideration.

Background

Amidst concerns of the global pandemic of the COVID-19, countries around the world are grapling with the effects and taking precautionary measures to deal with the crisis which it engenders. To date, Guyana has five total (reported cases), four active and one death.

To Cushion Employees/citizens

  1. Immediately raise the threshold to accommodate no taxation for employees in vulnerable sectors that were sent off the job from 65,000 to 100,000.
  2. Removal of mortgage interests and payments for the period.
  1. Reduce the spread at Commercial Banks. That is the difference between the lending rate and the savings rate of interest.
  1. Removal of VAT from all food items.
  2. Removal of VAT detergents and all household and medical and other cleansers.
  1. Removal of VAT from essential services including data.
  2. Temporarily remove the requirement to pay income and corporation taxes up front.
  3. Emergency funding for small businesses at risk of closure.
  4. Extend the time to pay utility bills and hire purchase debts.
  5. Reduce the excise taxes on fuel.

To Cushion businesses

  1. 100% deduction of taxes for items given to the national effort.
  1. Rescheduling of loans and mortgages.
  1. Relaxing of overdraft facilities.
  2. Relaxing of regulations to classify loan as non-performing.

Other measures

  1. Remove taxes on personal protection equipment (masks, gowns, gloves etc.)
  1. Allow hospitals to bring in Ventilators without taxes
  1. Allow labs to bring in test kits and PCR machines without taxes
  1. MOF consider offering the GBA a tax rebate in part of full for interest lost as a result of the Banks lowering their interstates
  1. Reduction is fuel prices by removing the tax component so that the public transportation can benefit also with a corresponding reduction on fares
  1. Utility companies should defer payments and/or reduce by 50%
  1. Tools form BCCI/ Harbour bridge transport and Harbour reductions. These measures would touch the mass of our population instantly.
  2. Filing of Income & Corporation Taxes until September 30, 2020 provided that the current COVID-19 situation is brought under control by then.
  1. Direct payment to citizens – unemployment payments or payroll subsidy
  2. Liquidity support for banks – interest subsidy
  3. Loans and financing for businesses administrative relief on statutory obligations
  4. Incentives for the promotion of the use of technology
  5. Tax measures to lower material cost for sanitization and food
  6. Measures for job creation
  7. Encourage the private importation of masks test kits and ventilators

Thank you and looking forward for a favorable consideration on these proposed measures.

Sincerely yours,

Capt. Gerry Gouveia, AA

Chairman

C: Ms. Gracelyn George, Head, Fiscal & Monetary Division, Ministry of Finance

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