A move by the Government to reduce an environmental tax on imported plastic containers while at the same time adding a tax to the local manufacturing sector for products that use non returnable plastic, glass and metal containers was voted down in the National Assembly today as the combined Opposition parties used their majority to kill the measure.
The administration moved to the National Assembly on Wednesday with amendments to the Customs Bill. The Government’s position was that instituting the tax on the local manufacturing sector would have been in keeping with CARICOM treaties but the Opposition disagreed.
APNU point man on Financial matters, Carl Greenidge told the National Assembly that there is no such treaty in CARICOM that covers the imposition of taxes on products that use non returnable metal, plastic or glass container. He argued that the Government has already been collecting over $1 Billion annually in the environmental tax on imports and has not been able to show where that money has been going.
He said the local manufacturing sector is against the new tax and there was no consultation with the business community.
Alliance for Change Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan shared the similar view as he told the Assembly that the money that the Government has been collecting over the years on imports as an environmental tax should have been used to clean up the environment especially the “city that is dirty and flooded every time a little rain falls”. He argued also that the Government did not take on board concerns from the private sector on the new tax.
Ramjattan said it would not just be manufacturing companies that would feel the effects of the tax, but the ordinary man who buys their products will feel the full effect with increased prices on products manufactured locally that would have fallen under the new tax.
Minister within the Ministry of Finance, Juan Edghill said Guyana needs to stay abreast with CARICOM and should institute the measure. He explained that there would have been a reduction on the tax for imports but more products would have been added to the list when the local manufacturing sector was put in line with the environmental tax.