Last Updated on Wednesday, 2 February 2022, 22:58 by Denis Chabrol
Public Works Minister Deodat Indar on Wednesday rejected claims by the opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) that the 2022 national budget is for big business, saying that the aim is to generate revenue and create.
He made known his position three days after opposition coalition frontbencher, Amanza Walton-Desir assailed the government for generously giving tax breaks to the private sector and said those would not trickle down to ordinary Guyanese.
In an apparent rebuttal, Public Works Minister Indar says incentives for the private sector will benefit the nation. He explained that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) raked in GY$89 billion from companies alone. “Private sector pays so that government spends money into initiatives,” he said. A Chartered Accountant by profession, he said the private sector pays import duties amount to GY$27.5 billion, GY$26.3 billion in Value Added Tax (VAT), and GY$40.5 billion in excise tax. “The private sector pays into the government coffers taxes and duties that we then use to programme our budget so the argument that (the budget) is for the big boys , it’s a weak at best argument by the opposition,” said Mr. Indar, a former President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GGCI).
The Minister of Public Works also reckoned that of the 251,000 jobs, 163,047 are employed by the private sector whose welfare must be catered for in the estimates of revenue and expenditure. “If you have a budget and it doesn’t address that 163,000 workers and the companies they work for, then the budget is a misfit but this budget we have out together here addresses that exact thing – create jobs and help to expand the private sector,” he said.
According to Mr. Indar said the public sector employs $57,000 workers and not-for-profit organisation account for 30,000 jobs. “To say that it’s a private sector budget is weak argument on their part,” he said.
The Public Works Minister stayed clear of Mr. Walton’s reference to the International Monetary Fund saying that inefficiencies in public sector projects amounted to more than 48 percent- which she interpreted to mean corruption and wastage- and said on Monday could be used to pay higher wages, pensions, provide free education and grants to 2,000 eligible small businesses.