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Govt backpedals on VAT reduction promise

first_imgGovernment appears to be dragging its heels on its long-delayed manifesto promise to significantly reduce the rate of the Value Added Tax (VAT) on consumer items – within 100 days of taking office.Finance Minister Winston Jordan, during a press conference on Monday, posited that the Administration had practically done all that was possible in relation to alleviating the burden of VAT and any more changes would require extensive consultations and possible repercussions.Jordan pointed out that Government has already implemented an extension to the zero-rated VAT items in both Budget 2015 and Budget 2016.“There is virtually nothing more left to reduce on,” the Minister declared.Further justifying the Government’s decision to not keep its campaign promise, Jordan also insisted that the Private Sector Commission (PSC) advised against VAT reduction during the budget consultations.The Finance Minister conceded, however, that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition did indeed promise a significant reduction in the VAT rate, but indicated that there was a slim likelihood of this occurring without any consequences.“This is a commitment that we intend to uphold, but it’s a commitment that we want to be sure when we do it, we won’t have to hastily pull it back … We cannot reduce VAT on existing base, we have to broaden the base to recoup revenues that will be lost…We want to do it in a careful manner so that when we do it, we won’t have to go back and increase it or something,” he explained, though this was never disclosed on the campaign trail.Jordan highlighted that there were various options for reducing VAT, one being a charge on consumer items like electricity and water as a trade-off for an across-the-board reduction.“What we would want to do is have the widest possible consultations ,because some of the options that you have is putting the VAT on some things that could cause trouble and then you will hear, you know, I said it the last time that you have to bring into the mix, things like water that doesn’t attract VAT at the moment, electricity that doesn’t attract VAT at the moment…If you remember in Trinidad and Tobago, when they reduced the rate, they broadened the base …They removed all the exemptions, so even baby food attracted VAT…We have to be prepared for what is doable and what may not be doable,” he stated.Nonetheless, he assured that Cabinet was discussing the matter and any changes to the VAT system were likely to come on stream in 2017.Providing assistance to Guyana in this regard is the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to the Finance Minister, a mission will be dispatched to Guyana to conduct an assessment of the VAT structure in the country and make recommendations on how to proceed to implement changes.The Tax Reform Committee was established by Government to conduct a similar assessment, but, according to Jordan, the members probably did not perform an adequate task.Nonetheless, he lauded the work done by the Committee and noted that the other recommendations made were before Cabinet for discussions.Finance Minister Winston Jordanlast_img read more


Police Sergeant hacked to death, suspect hangs self

first_imgBy Andrew CarmichaelA murder-suicide at Union, typically referred to as Number 30 Village, on the West Coast of Berbice (WCB), Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) has left residents in a state of shock.Woman Police Sergeant Kenisha Sheriff-Fraser, 39, was found in a pool of blood at her lot 370 Union Village, WCB home.Dead: Murder suspect, Clayton AnthonyThe alleged suspect has been identified as Clayton Anthony, also called “Woody”, 42, a porkknocker who occupies the bottom flat of the said house. His body was found hanging from a tree at the village seashore.Police in a release confirmed they are investigating a murder-suicide. According to the release, the Sergeant’s body was discovered in a bedroom in the upper flat of her two-storied home with multiple chop wounds. A blood-stained cutlass, suspected to be the murder weapon, was recovered at the scene.Deputy Commander Edmond Cooper said the investigators were responding to a report of a murder without the knowledge of who the victim was.The house where the murder took placeHe said when the Police arrived, they discovered several chop wounds on the body of the deceased. “As the Police continued their investigation we tried to locate the perpetrator and at the back of Number 30 Village at the seaside, we saw him hanging from a tree.”Cooper noted that the investigation will continue. He referred to the Sergeant’s death as a tragic loss to the Guyana Police Force. “We will do all in our power to control the family at this point in time and the mother who happens to be a Lance Corporal, stationed at the Weldaad Police Station.”When Sheriff-Fraser’s body was discovered, she was naked and there were chop wounds to the stomach, forehead, neck and arms.Sheriff-Fraser, who is the Treasurer at the Bob Gilliard Church in the village, is said to have been preparing for church when she met her demise.At the home, several of her colleagues were inconsolable as they tried to come to grip with the fact that the Sergeant who worked at the Registry Department at Central Police Station in New Amsterdam was no more.A neighbour, Avril Carmichael, who discovered the body told Guyana Times that Sheriff-Fraser was making strange sounds prior to her going into the house.She said it was her 29-year-old granddaughter who heard what is believed to be someone crying and alerted her. “I did not hear no quarreling. My granddaughter said she hear her screaming out like crying and all of a sudden the crying stopped so she tell me to go over,” Carmichael revealed.At first she thought it was Sheriff-Fraser’s mother who is a Lance Corporal. She said she called and got no answer and then attempted to push open the front door but it was locked.“So I go around to the back and open the door and I call but no one answer. I went inside and turn the knob on the first bedroom door and it was locked and so I went to the next bedroom and push open the door and then I discover this gruesome sight lying on the floor….”An alarm was then raised and several persons rushed into the building.Meanwhile, Carmichael explained that one of her great-grandchildren was on her step when the suspect came out of the house and she asked him what happened to Kenisha. “He didn’t answer her but when I look outside I see when he pack up a rope and walk out the yard and go along about his business… I see him walking over the bridge going to the sea dam side and then I go over,” she related.Meanwhile, Sheriff-Fraser’s eldest son told Guyana Times that for the past two days, his mother was acting in a strange manner. He said she told him that she had to be in Georgetown to conduct business but did not elaborate.Moreover, the son related that the suspect was very friendly and helpful to the family.The woman leaves to mourn three children ages 18, 11 and five years old, along with her husband and mother. Meanwhile, Police say the bodies are at the Anthony’s Funeral Home awaiting post-mortem examinations.last_img read more