Committee to present Fiscal Bill report tomorrow
By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
August 17, 2003

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THE Report from the Parliamentary Select Committee, tasked with reviewing the contentious Fiscal Enactments (Amendments) Bill 2003, will be presented in the National Assembly tomorrow for adoption.

Passage of the Bill, which attracted heated debate in the National Assembly last Wednesday night, was temporarily halted after agreement by both Government and Opposition to have it referred to a Special Select Committee, which was tasked with submitting a report by tomorrow.

Several other Bills will be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting.

The Fiscal Enactments (Amendments) Bill 2003, introduced by Finance Minister, Mr. Saisnarine Kowlessar in the National Assembly on August 04, seeks to amend a number of fiscal legislation to give effect to certain sweeping tax reform measures.

In guiding it through its second reading last Wednesday, Kowlessar noted that the Bill is very important and intended to, in a way, overhaul and bring major reforms to the tax system.

According to him, the Bill seeks to amend eight Acts to accomplish tax reform in several areas, such as the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act, the Financial Administration and Audit Act, the Tax Act, the Consumption Tax Act, the Travel Voucher Tax Act, the Income Tax Act (in aid of Industry) and the Customs Act.

The aim is to institute certain tax policy reforms as regards remission of tax, the reduction of tax rates and allowing tax administration resources to be used more efficiently.

According to Kowlessar, part of this new Bill will also deal with the process of discretionary exemptions, which have been given in the past.

“We are not removing those concessions which were given in the past, but what we are now doing is enshrining it into law,” he explained.

Kowlessar said the Bill is a “bold and positive step” to have a comprehensive reform of the tax system in Guyana.

He recalled having indicated in his 2002 national budget speech that the Government had intended to have a comprehensive review of the tax system and that it was going to undertake a study with the aim of making short and long term changes.

Kowlessar noted an announcement in the speech that the Government intends to bring about efficiency in the tax administration system, equity and generally improve tax collection, since revenue is a major problem for the Central Government.

“So one of the areas that we have identified is the strengthening of the fiscal incentive regime,” he explained.

At tomorrow’s sitting, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Manzoor Nadir, is scheduled to move the third reading of the Investment and Small Business Bills.

Minister of Fisheries Crops and Livestock, Satyadeow Sawh, is to move the adoption of the report of the Select Committee and the third reading of the Veterinarians and Animals Movement and Disease Prevention Bills.

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