What are your expectations for this year's budget? What The People Say About...
By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
January 14, 2002

Victor Bianchini - driver: `The income tax threshold should be raised to $30,000 and I would like to see substantial increases in salaries for policemen, soldiers, teachers and nurses to improve services and the standard of living in general. The budget should also make provision for the four categories of workers to get duty-free concessions on motor vehicles and be given house lots so they could be encouraged to stay in Guyana. I would also like the budget to cut out the taxation of overtime pay. People work overtime so that they could get a top up on their salaries. The budget is always making provision for local investors but they could never benefit from the incentives because the bureaucracy is not efficient and investors prefer to by-pass what is being offered. The budget should also give local investors tax holidays just as the foreign investors.'

Rudolph Babb - overseas-based Guyanese: `The budget should make provision for peace and unity. Provision should be made for traffic safety and environmental concerns. We're talking about tourism. Who would want to visit Guyana when the city is littered with garbage and the drainage is so bad and is a health and environmental hazard? There is need for salary increases, reduced taxation and bringing all categories of people into the income tax net.'

`Boyo' - businessman: `I would like to see government subsidise or reduce the cost of petrol in this budget and then the cost of living which is so costly at present would go down. Every sector would benefit - the manufacturer, the housewife, the farmer and the school child. Food costs and transportation would go down. The production costs could go down. Once the cost of living goes down we would have a healthier, happier nation. It is an investment that government should seriously consider. Way back in the eighties I recall former president Desmond Hoyte noting that 80% of the country's revenues go towards fuel.'

Sarah Kowlessar: `My concern is the cost of living. But first of all the budget should consider hiking the income tax threshold to about $30,000. That would help to alleviate the expenses that other categories of workers now have to bear. I still believe that more needs to be done to encourage both local and foreign investments and would like to see if the budget could make things easier. Right now young people like myself are in need of employment and only through these investments and job creation many of us will make our contribution. I also think that if duties and consumption taxes are reduced the government may lose some revenue initially but production will go up over a period of time.'

Compton Hodge - singer/musician: `The budget should make provision for the drafting of copyright laws to start protecting musicians. What is currently going on is that we are producing music and we are not getting anything in return. Until we get copyright laws and we musicians can start collecting royalties we deserve, we musicians will always remain poor. All we will do is produce music and get no returns. In this way we will not do our bit in improving the country's economy.'

Christopher Patterson - small contractor: `Provision should be made for the promotion of other sporting activities apart from cricket and football. These should include swimming, lawn tennis, cycling and even athletics. Provision should also be made for a stadium to be built by the private sector which should be seen as a major investment. The finals of the Kashif and Shanghai tournament, for instance, have outgrown their Linden venue. A stadium could be built in phases and developed over a period of time.'

R. Ramsaroop - educator/land surveyor: `This year has seen no economic growth so I can't expect anything from the budget. The year also promises to be a difficult one because of the weather and rice and sugar production as well as non-traditional export crops are likely to suffer unless we have good contingencies in place. In spite of what the budget may promise or make provision for unless we put our shoulders to the wheel we wouldn't get anywhere. For now the budget has to make provision to bring down the cost of living and in this respect we are talking about the costs of basic food items. We need foodstuff to be made as cheap as possible. The health of the nation is important. Once people are well fed we can expect production to grow. People can't work on hungry belly. Right now you can't blame businessmen for the prices of food and other items. If government could abolish or reduce consumption tax on some food items things will be better.'

E. Joseph - private sector employee: `The budget should make provision for an increase in the income tax threshold to about $25,000 to $30,000. There should also be a reduction in the cost of duties paid on household cars. US$4,000 is too high. We need real investment not just talk and an enabling environment, in terms of concessions, to make the investment possible. There should be a level playing field for all investors whether they be local or foreign. As a matter of fact as far as the infant industry concept goes some amount of protection or an extra edge should be given to them to be nurtured to bear fruit. This could be in the form of small subsidies or reduced consumption taxes.'