Guyana has most abusive and burdensome vehicle tariff system

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first_imgDear Editor,In letters to the Editors of Stabroek News, Kaieteur News and Guyana Times, published on September 30, 2018 with the apt captions of “Working Class Guyanese relegated to drive old vehicles” and “Guyanese relegated to drive old vehicles”, there is a response published on October 4, 2018, captioned “Taxes have been reduced for approximately 90 per cent of vehicles imported into Guyana”, and there are attached two tables that are as confusing as cricket is to the American from Wisconsin.The letter was signed by my friend and colleague, the Commissioner General of GRA, Mr Godfrey Statia. Of course the GRA article was published in the nation’s newspaper, Guyana Chronicle, and headlined “GRA debunks Nigel Hinds claims”. Chronicle is eager to publish a response, but not the original letter. I avoid sending them letters; the Guyana Chronicle masquerade is decades old.The GRA letter, written in a scattered and obscure manner, leads me to think that Mr Statia did not write the letter. The stringing together of a web of words and references that are not related to the core of my contention — that Guyanese are relegated to drive old vehicles — speaks for itself. And may I add that Guyanese are priced into seeking low-cylinder-capacity vehicles that tend to be low technology, have poor safety records, and are underlined by sub-par performance and the need for constant repairs and maintenance?The GRA tables focused on vehicles 2000cc and under, disregarding the tax rates for vehicles over 2000cc that I included in my previous letter, and which most Guyanese would love to own; relegation to third class status indeed.The GRA letter writer — and I use this term respectfully — is apparently not the Commissioner General of GRA, as his written submissions are of premium quality. The letter writer veers off into Government’s scrabbling, mystifying and seemingly inexplicable experimentation for a Green Guyana Economy, eco-friendly vehicles such as electric, hybrid and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vehicles. “Guyana is poised to take the lead in the region and soon implement the most modern version of the Harmonised System (2017) version of the Common External Tariff (CET)…” another heavyweight handed segway; unrelated to the essence of the subject matter; another pie in the sky.Then we have the oxymoronic claim that a 3000cc “economy class” vehicle is also a “high end” vehicle, such as the Mazda SkyActiv… Where in the world can you obtain new or newish vehicles such as a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry for cost, insurance and freight (CIF) of US$7,500, as mentioned in the GRA letter, without getting the dregs and discarded vehicles from the developed countries?GRA then proudly shows in the table that revised cumulative taxes for vehicles under 2000cc and less than four years old attract a revised cumulative tax rate ranging from 65 per cent to 82 per cent, virtually double any vehicle tariff in the region. Are we Guyanese not being treated most unfairly? To quote from the GRA letter: “GRA, with its limited capacity, is sometimes overwhelmed…” Lo and behold, GRA is now responsible for auditing Exxon Esso’s pre-contract costs. Why are we digging Government’s policy graves that diminish the capacity of Guyanese to thrive?Allow me to digress to a more personal matter, due to the insinuations in the GRA letter. When I re-migrated to Guyana in November of 2011, I was granted duty free concession on a 2006 Lexus 330. On December 13, 2014, on my way down from the Vryman’s Erven Basketball Court in Berbice, I was on the verge of crashing into the elevated road median located at Perseverance, Mahaica-Berbice, around 8:00 pm, in what visually was a pitch-dark night. Fortune favoured me that night, as I veered off the road and smashed into a massive mango tree; three air bags inflated, two on my side and one for my friend and passenger, Linden Hunte, the technology and safety features of the vehicle saved our lives. The vehicle was virtually totalled/written off. The good neighbours in Perseverance took us to the Mahaica hospital, where our minor injuries were treated.After having the vehicle parked in my garage for approximately one year, it was sold for $1.5 million, with all the necessary documentation given to the buyer… Some two years after the sale, I was contacted by a GRA officer and told that a vehicle in my name was seized.It appears that the buyer had brought in a much newer Lexus 330 from Suriname and used the number plates from my wrecked Lexus and other documents to import the vehicle, without paying the sky-high taxes. Why does Suriname pay a 25 per cent to 40 per cent tax rate? The last I saw of the Lexus imported from Suriname was at GRA Headquarters in late 2017, still bearing number plates from the wrecked Lexus.Regarding my lack of French/au fait relating to the vehicle tariffs, I will say a noose of a different size is still a noose.Guyanese are paying world beating vehicle tariff rates that are injurious, self-defeating, and draconian to the spirit and soul of the Guyanese people. Ask the Antiguan, Surinamese, Trinidadian, Barbadian or Jamaican, and then we see how we are cursed with these nonsensical vehicle import tariff rates pre- or post-2016.Let me conclude by hereby giving GRA the right to waive confidentiality rules relating to me, and permit publication of a ‘shame on you’ list relevant to me.Sincerely,Nigel Hindslast_img read more


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first_imgWaterAid, a non-profit organization, has launched a US$7 million project to provide water to targeted communities in Liberia and Sierra Leone.The 2015 WaterAid report said there was significant progress globally in meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for drinking water. However, both Liberia and Sierra Leone are lagging behind the universal coverage on safe water with an estimated 1.1 million Liberians and 2.4 million Sierra Leoneans impacted by the scarcity of safe drinking water. Patrick Cheah, WaterAid Country Director for Liberia, made the disclosure on Wednesday at the official launch of the 5-year project held at a local resort in Monrovia.WaterAid intends to transform the lives of the poorest and most marginalized people by improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in both countries, Director Cheah said.The program will focus on WASH impact on health, nutrition and schools.“We will build on the positive cross-border relationships we’ve established with stakeholders, including governments, donors, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and private sector and nurture a profile of service delivery and CSO partnership in order to maximize learning and increase synergy in WASH programming,” said Cheah. WaterAid works in four counties in Liberia and three districts in Sierra Leone, focusing on hard to reach communities and areas where citizens are marginalized in terms of access to water.“We are integrating communities that are around the border, including Gbarpolu, Cape Mount, Maryland and Grand Kru counties. In Sierra Leone, we are working in Kenema, Kailahun, among others to alleviate their constraints to access to water,” Cheah said. The organization will also push governance, especially where CSO partners exist to help WaterAid in its project delivery.“We will also look at knowledge management that helps to replicate what was done in Sierra Leone to come to Liberia,” he said, adding, “Our primary focus is looking at access to water services for remote communities.”The 2015 WaterAid report said there was significant progress globally in meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for drinking water; however, both Liberia and Sierra Leone are lagging behind the universal coverage on safe water with an estimated 1.1 million Liberians and 2.4 million Sierra Leoneans impacted by the scarcity of safe drinking water. “Our strategy is linked with the global strategy, which is the basis for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). WaterAid will come back and provide a progress report for the public and partners,” Director Cheah said. Augustine Myers, who spoke on behalf of Liberia WASH and CSOs, said he was delighted to be part of the WaterAid program to address water constraints in the country.“We are pleased that a Liberian can be a WaterAid Country Director, because only Liberians can solve our problems. The issue of water for rural communities is cardinal and the CSOs are willing to work with all the partners to ensure that we overcome this challenge,” said Myers.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more