Today is exactly one year since President Irfaan Ali’s Administration was sworn in to form the Government of Guyana. Hence, on this occasion, this author thought it fitting to conduct a one-year assessment of the Administration’s accomplishments in comparison to the previous Administration’s first year in office. Though space precludes a more granular comparative assessment, the author attempts to provide a very condensed summary of the two Administrations’ first year in office (see highlights and commentary below).
Current Administration’s One Year Performance/Achievements (August 2, 2020 – August 2, 2021) (Key highlights)
Budget 2020/2021 Measures:
• $150 million allocated to support front line workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, provision of $25,000 relief per household (COVID); Reversal of VAT on electricity and water; Increase Mortgage Interest Relief threshold from $15 million to $30 million (100% increase); Increase in low-income loan limit from $8 million to $10 million; Removal of VAT on building and construction materials; Reduction of licence fee by 50% on all licence fees that were increased in 2015; Removal of 25% corporate tax on education; Removal of 25% corporate tax and VAT on health and medical supplies; Removal of VAT on machinery and equipment; Removal of VAT on All-Terrain Vehicles for mining, forestry, agriculture and manufacturing; Reversal of VAT on exports; Change of log export policy to allow saw millers to export logs; $15,000 cash grant for school children; Old age pension increased from $20,500 to $25,000; Reversal of land lease fees across all sectors and water charges back to 2014 rates and reversal of the land taxes and drainage and irrigation charges back to 2014; Removal of VAT on fertilisers, agrochemicals, pesticides, and key inputs in the poultry industry, and zero rating of the poultry industry; Tax concessions on investment in agro-processing facilities, cold storage and packaging; Special incentives to be made available for planting corn and soybean.
• Restoring the VAT Zero-Rate on basic food items and household necessities; reducing water tariffs; zero-rating certain construction materials; reducing duty on industrial grade cement; increase in low-income loan ceiling further from $10 million to $12 million; reducing the cost of connectivity; reducing the cost of transportation in the hinterland; reinstating capital gains tax whereby the sale of assets owned for more than 25 years will not attract capital gains tax on their disposal.
• Govt Deposit Account Balance at the Central Bank, $68.4 billion (Surplus balance), as at the end of June 2021.
• Close to $8 billion in direct cash transfer to farmers and households who were affected in the recent flood crisis.
Previous Administration’s One Year Performance/Achievements (May 18, 2015 – May 18, 2016) (Key Highlights)
• VAT reduced from 16% to 14% but the list of items that attract VAT increased, for example, VAT was added to electricity and water; a plethora of items were moved from VAT Zero -Rate status to VAT exempt status (For a “zero-rated good,” the Government doesn’t tax its sale, but allows credits for the value-added tax paid on inputs. If a good or business is “exempt”, the Government doesn’t tax the sale of the good, but producers cannot claim a credit for the VAT they pay on inputs to produce it.); reduction on excise tax on vehicle imports); reduction on excise tax on vehicle import under four years old; ban on used tyres; ban on Styrofoam boxes; withdrawal of NIS subsidy; increase in income tax threshold from $600,000 to $660,000; introduction of SLED, introduction of Linden Enterprise Network ($155 million allocated); 50% increase in fees for all types of licences.
• Govt Deposit Account Balance at the Central Bank, $3.8 billion (deficit), as at the end of June 2016.
Source: National Budget Speeches