Govt mulls reduction of foreign investors’ concessions – President

President David Granger
President David Granger

government has responded to a call for there to be a level playing field when it comes to concessions granted to investors, both local and foreign, and President David Granger has indicated his government intends to reduce the concessions granted to foreign investors.

Currently, foreign investors enjoy greater concession than that of locals, which prompted a call for there to be equality.

“We want to ensure that foreigners are not given concessions and waivers and rebates, to which other people are not entitled. In fact, we want to reduce the amount of these concessions so that we become more competitive,” he stated.

The President said he was concerned that businesses will became too reliant on concessions and not do enough to develop their enterprises and resources.

It is important to note that Guyana, like many other countries, both developing and developed, has been granting concessions to foreign investors by way of tax exemption with the aim of attracting foreign capital.

But, two weeks ago, Chairman of MCG Investments (Giftland Mall), Roy Beepat, called for a leveled playing field for all investors in Guyana, a call the Private Sector Commission (PSC) has long been making.

Beepat’s statement was made in light of Chinese company BaiShanLin advertising the introduction of an international mall, which advertisement can be seen at the arrival lounge of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.

According to Beepat, government needs to be fair to local investors, whose revenues are being pumped back into the country’s economy.

“In fairness to our investment and parity between local investment and international enterprises such as these, it is important that a level playing field, I would find it abhorrent if it is a case that multibillion international companies should be treated with preferential treatment and unfair trading advantages over local companies,” Beepat said in a letter to the media.

The businessman also challenged the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Finance Ministry to disclose the details of the BaiShanLin investment, which was concluded under the previous People’s Progressive Party/Civic Administration.

Beepat said the Giftland Mall did not benefit from any concessions from government in terms of duty-free, Value Added Tax (VAT) waivers, tax holidays or any tax exemptions whatsoever.

The Chinese company, which is currently under review by the Government State Assets Recovery Unit (SARU), has been at the centre of controversies over the years it has been operating here.

The company enjoyed billions in concession from the previous government.

The GRA has over the last few months been clamping down on delinquent tax payers including BaiShanLin.

It was recently revealed that the Chinese logging company owes some $50 million in duties for two luxury vehicles it had imported.

Last month GRA’s Customs Department seized the Lexus SUV with registration PRR 2888 and the Nissan minivan with license plate PRR-3888.

It is unclear if GRA would institute charges against the company or seek an out-of-court settlement.