What the Budget means to you

Stabroek News
March 27, 1999

1. No new taxes in 1999.

2. Income Tax (Depreciation Rates) Regulations.

These regulations allow the Commissioner of Inland Revenue in his discretion to grant higher than the normal rates, as set out in the schedule. The government will amend these regulations to allow for a rate that is higher than is currently allowed for electrical equipment, including computer equipment. The rate that applies currently is 20%. The necessary amendments to the Income Tax (Depreciation rates) Regulations, will be presented to give effect to a 50% rate of allowance for such equipment, commencing January 1, 1999.

3. Property Tax

The Property Tax Act requires the filing of a return where the net property arrived at by allowing all liabilities at the end of the year to be offset against total assets revalued at 1st January, 1991, exceeds $500,000 for individuals. Assets acquired after 1991 are included at the cost of acquisition and improvements made thereafter. The law will be amended so individuals only have to file returns if they possess net assets in excess of $1.5million.

The tax-exempt threshold for both individuals and companies will be increased. The amounts currently exempted from taxes are $5 million and $500,000 respectively. These will be increased to $7.5 million and $1.5 million respectively from January 1, 1999.

4. Income Tax (In Aid of Industry) Act

To attract non-traditional investments for new industries by granting favourable accelerated allowances in accordance with the Income Tax (In Aid of Industry) Act amendments will be made to the first schedule to include industries engaged in the production of Ceramics, Sanitary Napkins, etc.

5. Stamp Duty

Legislation will be introduced to reduce stamp duty. This will give relief to companies seeking to increase their capital base.

6. The Common External Tariff.

The maximum external tariff will be reduced to 20 percent, from 25 percent. The legislation to give effect to this change will be tabled shortly. This should benefit the consuming public.

7. Review of fiscal incentives.

The government will conduct a sector by sector review of incentive regimes to determine the attractiveness of existing regimes in each sector relative to the rest of the countries in the region.

8. Tourism

The government will establish a Tourism Board with a subvention of $15 million during 1999. Once the Board is established, a review of the incentives' regime for this industry will be conducted with participation of the Board

9. Poverty programme

$119 million has been budgeted to continue the poverty alleviation programme during 1999.

l0. Neighbourhood Democratic Councils and Municipalities.

$250 million has been budgeted to assist these bodies in the implementation of their programmes.

ll. Measures to compensate labour

a) Key and Critical Supplement
The government has committed itself to pay $180 million over 3 years to certain categories of officers whose posts are deemed to be vital to the civil service. $70 million has been budgeted to continue this programme in 1999.

b) Wage Increase
Increase in wages for public servants are currently being negotiated with the unions. As such, no increase can be announced at this stage. However, once the negotiations are completed, the government will return to the National Assembly for supplementary resources to meet the obligation. As in the past, workers outside the traditional public service, such as the disciplined forces and teachers, and pensioners, can expect to benefit from increases in 1999.