Budget 2021 a “return of spending power”– Chambers of Commerce, Unions

The policies and investments set out in Budget 2021 continue to collect positive feedback and praises from different sections of society – who have all lauded Government’s vision to better the livelihoods of Guyanese.
On Monday, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) welcomed the measures and allocations that were proposed in the 2021 budget, noting that it will benefit people from all walks of life. Budget 2021 was presented on Friday by Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, introducing a slew of plans to develop the various sectors.
In a statement, FITUG indicated that it took note of several initiatives that will raise the disposable income and ease some of the burdens that were brought on by the former coalition Administration. Moreover, it will improve the livelihoods of those persons in the vulnerable cross-section.
“The increase in the school grant, reduction in water tariffs, hikes in old age pensions and public assistance, removal of VAT on internet and data services, and the expanding the list of zero-rated products can well translate into thousands of dollars remaining in the pockets of the working people. Indeed, these are most welcomed more so in view of the several challenges that still confront our people, especially our vulnerable population,” the Federation expressed.
The Union also spoke on the significant allocations that were made to the health and education sectors, noting that it speaks of Government’s commitment to safeguarding the population and building a knowledge-based economy.
“Indeed, these two fundamental policies play a seminal role in our ongoing development and the massive sums earmarked could see much transformation in these two important areas. Significant efforts we recognised have been placed on enhancing national infrastructure and may certainly ease the many woes our people have in getting from place to place. Modern and efficient infrastructure is desperately needed and the budget we see makes a significant first step to correcting many of the maladies that prevail.”
In recognising that many dreams of homeownership were “dashed over” in the last five years, policies by the new Government to bring this back on the front burner were praised. Now, they noted, persons will get closer to transforming these dreams into reality.
FITUG further elucidated, “The budget also spoke to the exciting economic times that have gripped our country. Indeed, there is a great deal to anticipate. In as much as the times are bright, we recognise the Government laying a foundation for the period ahead. We find this commendable as such policies augur well for this and future generations of Guyanese. Indeed, our country, we have long known, has great untapped potential. It is heartening to see some of this potential being unlocked through the transformative agenda laid out by the Government.”

Spending power
Meanwhile, the business community has also thrown great confidence behind the Administration’s plans for this fiscal year. The Bartica Chambers of Commerce commended Government on Budget 2021, viewing it as a “return of spending power” for the poor and working class.
Spokesperson Sherwyn Downer penned, “Duty-free concessions and other tax exemptions for miners and the mining industry is most welcome and timely as miners continue to struggle with night cost of maintenance and transportation of goods and services to the interior even as mining remains the largest contributor to Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product. The Bartica Chamber of Commerce joins with the Private Sector Commission of Guyana and all regional sectoral bodies in commending the Irfaan Ali Administration on Budget 2021.”
President of the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, Mohamed Raffik also chose to share his take by observing that the tax reversals and nonexistent new taxes will incentivise the Private Sector and bring relief to the ordinary man.
“It is good to see the Party keeping its campaign promise, with each school child to receive $15,000, an increase from last year. This measure alone will put billions of dollars of disposable income directly in the hands of the ordinary man…To boost the housing drive, there was further zero-rating of construction materials and an increase of the loan ceiling of the New Building Society. Together with the above, the removal of VAT on some basic food items will help the ordinary man and bring ease to the hardships faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Raffik said there are areas where the Chamber would like to see improvement, including increased online transactions for renewal of driver’s licence and online payment for other services. It, however, noted that there was a stark difference in the budgets presented by this Government and the last, where the latter was filled with avenues to burden the population.
The Chamber stated, “We would have liked to see an increase in the income tax threshold, but as a whole, this kind of budget of reducing the tax burden on the population and incentivising key productive areas like forestry, the gold mining and other productive sectors, will definitely move our country forward and, in our view, is the key difference between this Government and the last one, where then the increased tax burden and heavy bureaucracy had only served to isolate and demotivate the Private Sector.” (G12)