GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – The main challengers for the post of President have been making promises to the electorate as Guyana gets ready to elect a new head of state and National Assembly on May 11.
Incumbent President Donald Ramotar says his government has been aggressively pursuing a people-centred development course and has assured voters that this will result in new job opportunities.
He said the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), which is seeking to extend its 22 year hold on government, has plans to build a deep water harbour in the Berbice River and a highway from Linden to Lethem to link Brazil, “so that Brazil and South America can do international trade through Guyana.” Ramotar said the government is also working with the Suriname to bridge the Corentyne River.
“These are projects that will transform our country, transform the lives of our people, and that is why we are preparing our people through education… we want our people prepared and ready,” he said, adding that large sums of money are being spent to ensure the country’s human resources are highly qualified and skilled to take advantage of the opportunities that will be presented.
These, he said will directly impact the prospects available to residents in Orealla and Siparuta by opening up new avenues for business from which they can capitalise.
“That will create new kinds of jobs, plenty of jobs and even the road itself -you have to have mechanic shops, tire shops, vulcanizing shops, hotels, and restaurants, all of which can generate lots of jobs for people. Those are the things that the opposition wants to cut from the budget.”
But David Granger, the presidential candidate of the coalition alliance –A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) – is promising voters that a coalition government would reform the tax system resulting in no taxes being applied to basic necessities.
Granger, speaking at a forum hosted by the Guyana Women’s Roundtable (GWR) and the Guyana National Youth Council (GNYC), said the general policy of the coalition is to pursue tax reform with the establishment of a Tax Reform Commission.
He said the general thrust of the commission would see “any forms of taxation” being removed from the necessities that any household would need, to function in an adequate manner on a daily basis.
The retired senior army official said also, that the coalition intended to introduce measures that would see taxes levied, on the importation of vehicles changed in a drastic manner.
He explained that taxes on new cars would be lowered, while taxes on older vehicles would be increased. Granger added that the thrust of such a reform would be to foster development, with respect to importing cars that are more environmentally friendly and would consume less fuel.
Granger said that “it is a cockeye policy to tax new vehicles at such a high rate.”
He said there would also be reviews of the tax regulations with respect to Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Value Added Tax (VAT).
In 2013, Parliament approved a proposal for the reduction of the rate of income tax from 33 ⅓ per cent to 30 per cent, but Granger said that more change still needs to be done.
He said that the tax threshold which currently sits at GUY$50,000 (One Guyana dollar =US$0.004 cents) monthly has to be raised.
He told the form that this would be done in conjunction with the lowering of VAT and income tax.
Meanwhile, Ramotar said his administration would continue to pursue policies to improve the heath and education sectors, and warned of the deliberate attempts by the political opposition to stymie national development.
“We have an opposition that has not been cooperating, they want power for power sake,” he said, noting that they have opposed the passage of critical piece of legislations such as the Anti- Money Laundering Bill, the amendment to the environmental tax on imported bottled aerated drinks.