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West Berbice Chamber wants tax concessions for rice farmers


Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) Chairman, Vickchand Ramphal addressing the opening of the West Berbice Expo at the Bath Settlement Ground. In the background are (left to right), President of the West Berbice Chamber of Commerce, Imran Sacoor; Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo.

The President of the West Berbice Chamber of Commerce, Imran Sacoor on Saturday urged government to provide concessions to rice farmers, amid concerns about the devastation to hundreds of acres of paddy caused by the prolonged drought.

Addressing the formal opening of the first West Berbice Business Expo being held at the Bath Settlement Community Centre Ground under the theme “Transforming Region Five for a Better Guyana,” Sacoor said rice farmers were in urgent need of relief. “Our farmers have been having some problems in the last crop and I endorse what our (Regional) Chairman said and I want to say that one of the ways in which we can assist our farmers is to be able to give them some tax concessions on the basic inputs of agriculture that is necessary to boost their cultivation,” he said.

Prior to Sacoor’s address, Region Five Chairman, Vickchand Ramphal raised serious concerns about the fate of the rice industry on which a huge segment of Region Five (Mahaica- Berbice) depends. “Over the last few months farmers have experienced a decline in prices for their produce also and with the present El Nino conditions, things might get even much more difficult for our farmers in this region which will affect the region’s economy a lot,” he said.


President of the West Berbice Chamber of Commerce, Imran Sacoor addressing the opening of the West Demerara Berbice Expo.

Ramphal complained about a decline in economic activity in Region Five, the largest rice-producing region in Guyana. He highlighted that most people in Region Five are connected to the rice industry which is the economic backbone there. “We cannot allow such a big industry to fall and as such this trade fair and expo can provide avenues for our farmers whereby they can look into other areas to make their produce more marketable by utilizing technologies and other forms of moving their business forward,” he said.

The Chairman of the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-controlled region’s call came against the background of the loss of the lucrative Venezuelan rice market several months ago. The PPP has accused the almost one year old coalition-led administration of mishandling Guyana-Venezuela relations resulting in Caracas ceasing rice purchases from Guyana.

The Region Five Chairman floated the idea of having a modern packaging plant there to help rice farmers become competitive and generate jobs.

Claiming that Region Five is Guyana’s largest agro-producer, Ramphal called for steps to be taken for the region to engage in value-added production.


  • Gtloyal

    Some temporary “… tax concessions on the basic inputs of agriculture that is necessary to boost their cultivation,” may be considered.
    Crying about the Vzla deal must be done at freedumb casa or pradoville dos. They were running things when the deal fell through.
    “… having a modern packaging plant there …” would be great but it must be privately owned. Government must not own companies. It only benefits corrupt officials.
    As the chairman it is Ramphal and the Rice Industry’s responsibility to find a way for “… the region to engage in value-added production”. No more depending on Central Government. They will collaborate but you as the head of the regional government has the task of finding a way.

    • Col123

      Gt::The economy remains the responsibility of the central govt..let’s focus on the challenges…

      • SYL

        Suddenly every aspect of the economy is having problems and needs hand outs , so to speak. When the fat cats were running it on auto pilot , and every one including the industry guys filling their pockets and having a field day, why didn’t they save for this rainy day.If you’re operating a business, in the high yield times you have to place some profits to cater for the times of El nino, and El nina . The central government is like the tower of an airport, just to give guidance , but its the private sector that keeps the economy on course. If you always play politics with this type of scenario, then let the government do like Cuba, Pay all the profits you get, so they can allot it back when the times get like El nino. You cannot keep all your income and then run back to daddy for money after you spend it unwisely or hide it some where in a another country, and pretend it finish. Even the prisoners have a problem all of a sudden and want the government to solve it, and they burn their beds and want government to buy it back, then they kill themselves and want government to foot the bill. What’s and who’s next?

        • Col123

          I get your point SYL…but you have to agree that the govt draw the lines with policies and rule of law..we need to have an economic plan and not just wing it…with the local govt now being incorporated …it is time for the laws, rules,regulations ..etc to be enforced…

  • Emile_Mervin

    Everybody wants tax concessions, which is not inherently bad if government wants to inspire investor confidence, but with tax concessions come truth and consequences.

    Rice farmers must declare their actual production/financial records, including all financial transactions showing expenses, income and taxes. If their local and foreign accounts do not line up with their records, they have to face stiff penalties from the GRA , including seizure and forfeiture. And to qualify, all rice farmers must be registered and their books brought up to date with the GRA!


    Second, any tax concession means the rice industry must stop asking the government for financial bailouts or to help find markets. This is a private sector endeavor, so let the rice sector take care of itself.

    • Col123

      EM:: You live in the real world, so your thoughts are valid..Large subdivisions of rice land are leased and cultivated by investors..the owners are living overseas…when the profit margin is reduced , we will see the collapse of this level of rice farming…allow me to point out the same scenario with the”small”cane farmers who are planting on leased farm land still owned by “those who cut and ran”. The issue is really the economy and foreign exchange ! My friends who flunked basic chemistry and physics and pursued the laws of supply and demand,need to sharpen their pencils to figure this out..

      • Emile_Mervin

        I constantly hark back to a profoundly disturbing letter sent by a Guyanese who worked with the World Bank, in which he revealed right after the PPP returned to power in 1992, several rice farmers took out massive agricultural loans and then fled overseas without repaying anything.

        Prior to that, many took GAIBANK losns, repaid the loans, but engaged in massive rice smuggling by bypassing the then GRMB.

        Because of politics, everybody has been gaming the system. And politicians are in on the gaming, too, which has us why so many have newfound wealth and affluent lifestyles on barely-enough incomes.

        • Col123

          EM…that letter writer should be suspect…Why would the World Bank give loans without collateral hold?… the World Bank at that!…If that is one of their policies of giving loans without collateral hold…then we have a lot of fools in the banking business….and they deserve to have folks running off with the money…just saying…

    • rudeo

      including seizure and forfeiture! WOW!

      • Emile_Mervin

        You owe Uncle Sam’s IRS and they take away down to your bicycle if you don’t pay up or reach a settlement.

    • Col123

      EM: Question -If the govt is not involved directly in the marketing…(export)..How will they partake on receipt of the much needed foreign currency?

      • Emile_Mervin

        Answer: A government has a right to collect taxes on all products manufactured or produced in its land, including for local and foreign consumption. It does not have a right to help producers and manufacturers market their products abroad. The US Federal Government, for example, does not market American products.

        However, a government may, as part of regional and international trade agreements, create the environment conducive for producers and manufacturers in their respective countries to take advantage of opportunites to market their products abroad in predetermined markets. But in a competitive marketing environment, it will be up to businesses to devise marketing strategies for succeeding.

        • Col123

          Em: the govt makes more money when it uses its resources to facilitate foreign sales on these and other produce…I would hope that the govt will not push only rice..but other produce in its negotiation. My point is …the more markets we have for our produce…the more the govt ..and citizens…benefit..and lets be fair…what wherewithal and resources does the farming communities have available, to sell their products to foreign markets?…and we are talking about Guyana.. .please…

          • Emile_Mervin

            Agricultural communities have to develop to stay competitive and successful. This includes acquiring technical and material resources. Unfortunately, Guyana has a history where the governments of PPP and PNC practiced state controlled politics that ran interference in the rice industry, forcing rice farmers and millers yo develop a dependency syndrome. Almost all the problems with rice in Guyana have a link to state control politics.

          • Col123

            EM…thanks…lets go to the USA…or any other country for that matter..would you disagree that politics are out of play with regards to export of industry, agri products etc..?…these countries are all on the same playing field…your points are well taken…but however we look at it, we can see the same embed of politics… it is blatant in the US with lobbyists..

  • Col123

    ecil…Indians were getting rich prior to the past 23 years…Guyana is more than 23 yrs old..get past your bigoted hatred…

  • rs dasai

    So all private sector industries should fend for themselves and be self sufficient. This also includes transportation, aviation, manufacturing (medicine, food, RICE, SUGAR,clothes, houses etc.) without Gvt’s help.And the GVT ‘MUST’ like the Sherriff of Nottingham, send his ‘tax collectors’ to extract ‘tax’ on these businesses? Now , tell us what the GVT will provide in return for these taxes? And before you reply , please consult with ‘Cabinet’.

    • Emile_Mervin

      I am not quite sure if you are genuinely unaware of the history and role of government and taxation or if you are testing my knowledge of both, but the centuries old system of government and taxation functions like a combination of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Father Christmas: collecting and distributing.

      Taxes collected by governments are used to provide myriad services to the country that individual businesses and citizens would not otherwise provide because such services may not be within their legal or moral remit. Nevertheless, governments have helped both businesses and individuals financially if and when circumstances dictated, so that government and taxation are not inherently bad for countries.