PRESS RELEASE People’s National Congress Reform Congress Place, Sophia, Georgetown, Guyana. Monday, July 18, 2005

At the Sitting of the National Assembly on Thursday July 14, 2005, a Report of the Special Select Committee on the Value Added Tax Bill was laid in the National Assembly. However, the People’s National Congress Reform pointed out that proceeding with the consideration of this Report on that day was in violation of the Standing Order 76 (5) of the Parliament which requires that one day notice must be given. The Speaker upheld the PNCR objection.

It should be noted however, that prior to formally challenging the presentation of the Report of the Select Committee, PNCR Member of the Committee, Mr. Winston Murray, MP, had tried in vain to have Mr. Reepu Daman Persaud, MP, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, postpone consideration of the Report until the next agreed Sitting of the National Assembly scheduled for Thursday July 21, 2005. The government bluntly refused and attempted to proceed in violation of the Standing Orders. Having failed in their attempt to violate the Standing Orders, Minister Persaud, without any prior consultation, proceeded to name today, Monday July 18, for the National Assembly to consider this matter. This action by Minister Persaud is in gross violation of the agreed procedures relating to setting of dates for Sittings of the National Assembly. The PNCR is totally opposed to the continued breaches of procedure which seem designed to undermine the functioning of the Parliamentary Management Committee. The PNCR, as a result, has decided to protest by severely limiting its participation in today’s Sitting of the National Assembly.

In relation to the working of the Special Select Committee, the PNCR wishes to acknowledge the spirit of understanding, which characterized the proceedings generally. As a result of PNCR’s representation, a number of amendments were made which, in our opinion, improved the general quality of the Bill. However, the PNCR was unable to achieve any movement on some of the fundamental aspects of the Bill; for example, we are convinced that in the interest of predictability and transparency the VAT rate, the list of zero-rated and exempt items and the registration threshold should be specifically included in this Bill and should not be left for later subsidiary legislation. The government refused to make any amendment to some of the draconian powers granted to the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority.

The PNCR wishes to draw particular attention to Clause 45 of the Bill, which, in our opinion, violates the right of freedom of travel. Though we were able to obtain agreement in the Committee that travel can only be prevented by an order of court, the government has not included this agreed amendment in the Report before the National Assembly. The government has also refused to consider the request of the business community to delay implementation of the provisions of the Bill for one year. For all of these reasons the PNCR is unable to support the passage of Value Added Tax Bill in its present form and by extension the Excise Tax Bill.

People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia,
Georgetown, Guyana.
Monday, July 18, 2005