General Secretary of the opposition People’s Progressive Party, Clement Rohee, has criticized the government’s move to increase the fees for the acquisition of a firearm license.
At his Monday morning press conference, Mr. Rohee said the new fees are exorbitant and designed to rob citizens of disposable income in their pockets.
On Friday, the decision to increase the fees was announced by Finance Minister Winston Jordan during the presentation of his 2016 National Budget.
Among a series of measures to enhance revenue, the Finance Minister proposed to amend the Firearms Act to increase the annual fee for firearm licenses. The fee for a shotgun license is to be raised from $2000 to $5000, the cost for a handgun license will go from $5000 to $25,000, rifle fees will be increased from $5000 to $40,000 and dealer’s licenses will be issued at a cost of $150,000, up from $7500.
“It is a lazy way to bring in revenue”, Rohee lamented as he urged the government to find other creative ways to rake in revenue.
The issuing of these licenses fell under Rohee’s purview while he served a Minister under the former PPP government.
He denied on Monday that the party was using the issue as a political strategy ahead of the upcoming local government elections.
“Because times are hard now in Guyana, every dollar count, every penny counts,” he added.
Rohee could not say how many persons stand to be directly affected by these increases and skirted questions on the applicants’ ability to reach the new cost comfortably.
A large number of applicants include businessmen and women. The PPP General Secretary also argued that the new fees could also foster corruption. “As the fees go up the bribes will increase as well… you know they say the sticker the government the wiser the population.”
When reminded about the PPP’s refusal to lower the Value Added Tax while in government amid similar concerns regarding disposable income, Rohee said every government has a right to formulate its own polices to earn revenue and said the PPP felt using VAT was the best way.
The coalition government has committed to reviewing VAT. (Kurt Campbell)
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