The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has commended Finance Minister, Hon. Winston Jordan, on yet another early Budget which provides the opportunity to begin the year on a pre-charted course.
The PSC, in consultation with the Minister as the Budget was being crafted, made a number of recommendations, chief among which was the gradual lowering of the Corporate Tax rate over a period of 10 years to 20%. The Commission is therefore pleased at the reduction to 25% which was announced for 2019 and signals a commitment to this mutual goal.
“We are happy too that Budget 2019 contains several measures such as the raising of the tax threshold, which the Commission had proposed for the relief of the tax burden upon employees, and the monies earmarked for hinterland airstrips. Also gratifying is the provision for the differently able, a demographic which is often neglected,” the PSC said.
The Commission said too that it is cognisant of the need to incentivise the manufacturing sector but would have hoped that, given the substantial contribution of the services sector to the Gross Domestic Product, consideration would have been given to reducing the tax rate for commercial businesses from the draconian 40% as this is having an adverse effect on legitimate businesses.
PSC said too that it is pleased that plans have been announced for the construction of the Linden-Lethem road which will ease the woes of businesses and residents which depend on this corridor for their livelihood. The dire need for the East Bank road, which had been proposed by the Commission, has also been addressed and the Commission is heartened that the development of modern Port Georgetown is being addressed.
The PSC however noted that it is concerned about the level of proposed overall tax revenue on businesses and individuals as Budget 2019 projects a 9.9% increase in revenue while the economy is projected to grow by 4.6%. Most importantly, it noted that there is no provision for relief on energy costs which are stifling businesses. Worrying too, it said, is the impact of Budget 2019 upon the foreign reserves of the Central Bank; an impact that does not appear to have taken cognisance of the need to cushion against external shocks to which the country and its currency are vulnerable.