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Opposition offers tax breaks, professional public service

APNU+AFC candidate, Cathy Hughes addressing the Candidate Issues Forum at the Theatre Guild.

The opposition on Monday pledged to re-professionalize the public service, pay teachers more as well as slash income, value added and import taxes on brand new vehicles.

If elected to office on May 11, the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) also intends to reward large businesses with tax breaks in exchange for establishing day care centres and employing more women. “When it comes to the tax system, we are saying to the large employers, we want to be able to put a facility where a woman does not have to worry about the care of her children,” said opposition candidate, Cathy Hughes.

APNU+AFC Presidential Candidate, David Granger told a Candidate Issue Session held at the Theatre Guild, Kingston, Georgetown that his administration would continue the programme of strengthening the public service that was abandoned by the incumbent administration in 1998 after an eight-week strike by government employees for higher wages and salaries.

“What we have here is a weakened public service and we will re-professionalize the public service by appointing people based on merit and persons who have been brought in because of who their father is and who their uncle is will not find a way in the upper echelons of the new public service,” he said.

Granger told a packed Theatre Guild that in recent years public servants have been “swept away” and replaced by contracted employees who are easily fired if they violate aspects of the deal.  He told the gathering of mostly young and middle-aged persons that an APNU+AFC government would build a public service to support Guyana’s developmental thrust that focuses on the needs of people. “Charity begins at home but you have to look for competent people and this has been a problem with the PPP administration over the last twenty-three years,” he said.

He promised to set up a tax reform commission to lower the almost 100 percent taxes and duties on new vehicle imports , and reduce the 16 percent Value Added Tax and the 33.3 percent Income Tax. “We are very likely to reduce the tariff on new vehicles and increase the tariff on old vehicles. Old vehicles, old tires have very short and messy careers and if people are encouraged to buy new vehicles or to buy new tires it would be good for the environment so we believe it’s a cock-eyed policy to tax new vehicles at such a high rate and allow so many old smoky vehicles,” Granger added.

Granger could not immediately provide figures on the range of tax cuts, saying that APNU and the AFC were yet to consult on them since signing a pre-election pact on February 14, 2015.

Hughes added interest rates could be reduced for female-headed households and persons purchasing houses for the first time.

She said the coalition would examine ways of establishing a micro-credit facility that would offer women loans at lower interest rates and with less red-tape.

At the same time the presidential candidate, who has been on a pro-education crusade as part of efforts to create jobs in the productive sector, stressed that teachers would be better paid. “

Organised by the Guyana National Youth Council and the Guyana Women’s Roundtable, the next  Candidate Issue Session is expected to be held on Wednesday at the Theatre Guild.