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$161 Billion Budget Unveiled

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In what has been described as the longest budget speech ever presented in the national assembly, it took the Finance minister Dr Ashni Singh just over 3 very long hours to roll out a whopping 161.4 billion dollar budget which represents a 13% increase over last year’s budget. After skipping last year, the income tax threshold has been increased. Persons making 40,000 and less per month will now find themselves outside of the income tax bracket. That’s an increase from the 35,000 per month that was there.

Though the 16% value added tax will remain the same. The corporate community will enjoy a reduction in the taxes they pay. Well most of the corporate community anyway. Corporation tax will be reduced from 45% to 40%. However the telecommunications sector will not benefit from that reduction which means your telecommunications charges will remain the same. However pensioners will enjoy a 14% increase in pension payments. Old age pensioners will now receive 7,500 per month. Public assistance is also seeing a slight increase.

The budget paid particular attention to Guyana’s main exports and the sugar industry with its dismal showing last year will see more money being poured into it this year, with the hope of some handsome returns.

Though the economy only grew by just over 3% last year, the finance minister said it was a creditable performance.

What was clear is that over the past year the government pulled in a hefty sum in taxes. The value added tax alone raked in a whopping 43 billion dollars. That’s nearly 10% increase over last year.

The government intends to spend billions on road projects, expansion at the airports and is betting its dollars on oil exploration. Though the government intends to throw a whole lot more money to pull more tourists here this year, the minister made no mention of Guyana acquiring its own airline, something that the government was contemplating last year. One opposition member of parliament today described the over 3 hour budget presentation as less of a budget and more of a PPP manifesto in this election year.

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