Consultations are still ongoing for the 2018 budget, but Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan has provided an early indication of no new taxes and a budget that seeks to generate economic activity for small business owners whereby making them their own bosses.
Minister Jordan made the disclosure Mobday during a press conference and announced that Government continues to review the removal of the Valued Added TAX (VAT) on tuition fees, added as part of last year’s budget and which drew sharp protests from parents.
“Our focus in the budget now is to make people their own boss so we are increasingly putting more and more resources that aim to increase the skill pool and in many ways offering you some assistance,” Minister Jordan said when asked about job creation plans for the budget.
Though many already very low taxes were increased last year, that move had sparked off much criticism by the opposition and other interest groups.
The Minister spoke of Government’s Sustainable Livelihood Program, which he explained provides ‘$100 million in outright grants’. He concluded that entrepreneurship is a hard sell since many persons continue to approach Government for jobs and maintained that the economic driver will have to be non-government.
He cautioned against “Even the best of governments tried going into economic activity and for the most part it has failed; the latest is Guysuco and I always say that the one that has kept us going is Guyoil.” Guyoil was established by the then Cheddi Jagan-led internal self-government as a means of energy security during the politically turbulent period of the 1960s.
He noted also that all small businesses and all entrepreneur activity that can increase the pool of household income, community income and the national income are to be considered, encouraged and grown.
“All of us can’t be rocket scientist,” Jordan said.
He added, “We want to create conditions for particularly small businesses to grow and you don’t have to knock up a shed to get a small business and I see someone scornfully talk about the lady with the plantain chip as if selling plantain chip is a beneath activity. I like plantain chip.”
President David Granger, in promoting the need for cottage industries, has given, as an example, the production of plantain chips- a suggestion Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and his People’s Progressive Party have latched on to as a tool for mocking and criticising the government as visionless.
Granger had indicated Government’s intention to present the 2018 budget in November, before the start of the fiscal year, a move Government said was historic and one that proves fiscal responsibility.