Use ‘oil money’ to provide income tax relief, increased pensions, grants, improved infrastructure

Last Updated on Friday, 14 January 2022, 18:03 by Writer

The opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on Friday recommended that government considers a raft of measures, including lower income tax, fatter pay packets and increased pensions in the 2022 national budget to cushion the impact of the 20-percent increase in the cost of basic items.

Highlighting that Guyana’s economy was projected to record real growth of 49.7% plus US$607 million (GY$122 billion) already earned from oil revenues, the PNCR wants the income tax threshold to be increased to GY$1.5 million or 1/3 of gross earnings, whichever is higher, from the present GY$780,000. Also, in the area of income tax, that party wants the law to be amended to ensure that the minimum wage is never taxed along with the restructuring of the income tax rates for 15 percent of the first GY$3 million of chargeable income; 20 percent on the next GYY$3 million and 25 percent on the remainder.

Along with those income tax reforms, the PNCR wants the Irfaan Ali-led administration to provide an interim 10 percent increase in public servants’ wages and salaries pending the start and conclusion of government-union negotiations for at least an additional 15 percent hike.

The PNCR also wants this year’s national budget to include an increase of GY$10,000 per month in the old age pension and the grant given to those in difficult circumstances; a GY$50,000 COVID risk allowance to all eligible frontline workers every six months until the pandemic has been declared officially over by the World Health Organisation/Pan American Health Organisation.

In other areas, the PNCR is calling for GY$5 billion to be set aside to rebuild infrastructure such as entailing roads drains, community and recreational centres, and markets and other facilities in depressed villages and communities.

Funding, the PNCR said, should also be set aside to conduct an immediate survey of poverty in the entire country so as to better target ameliorative policies and measures.

With official statistics showing that between 2018 and 2020, GY$6 billion has been spent on the importation of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, that political party wants programmes such as the Rural Agricultural Infrastructure Development (RAID), which was implemented under the coalition government to develop sustainable farming in Buxton, Beterwagting, Mocha and Ithaca to be revitalised and expanded to other villages, with necessary government support in the form of financing, extension services, marketing and sales.

“This is tragic, given the agriculture potential of the country and the resilience of our farmers. We therefore call for an immediate reversal of this trend,” the PNCR stated in referring to the amount of money that is being spent on the importation of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.