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VAT on Internet data “necessary” – Public Telecoms Minister

FILE PHOTO: Left to right: Manager of the Ministry of Public Security Citizen Security Project, Clement Henry; Head of Guyana’s E-Government Unit; Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes, and Public Relations Officer of that ministry, Marjorie Chester.

Value Added Tax (VAT) on Internet data will be used to help fund the Guyana government’s Information Communication Technology (ICT), Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes said Wednesday.

“The CAT on data has also received harsh criticisms but I want to remind us all that it is a necessary revenue stream given the range of transformational measures I have shared.

In the long-run with the new liberalized environment that will spur competition, I expect to see our high contest  of Internet access, when compared to other parts of the Caribbean, reduced in time and that will benefit us all”she told the National Assembly during debate on the 2017 National Budget.

Hughes said free ICT hubs are expected to provide “valuable support to many.”

She announced that GYD$114 million have been set aside in the 2017 National Budget for the establishment of public internet access points, and another GYD$600 million will be spent on ensuring there is Online access at government buildings.

The Public Telecommunications Minister announced that several post offices would be “calibrated” to provide Internet access and access government services free of charge. Community  ICT hubs, she said, are being established in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 to benefit more than 66,000 residents.

The opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) has argued that VAT on Internet data runs counter to government’s touted ICT transformational project.

Listing other budgetary allocations, she said GYD$60 million would go towards the expansion of the E-Government network to other parts of Guyana, GYD$50 million on cyber security, GYD$275 million for maintenance and technical support and GYD$674 million for the provision of Internet connectivity to over 140 government locations already on the network.

Several secondary and tertiary educational institutions have already been linked via the E-Government  network.