High drama as $38.5B Public Infrastructure budget passed

first_img– Opposition questions $199. 7M rental of buildings for UNThere was high drama in the National Assembly as the Government was questioned about various projects and expenditures under the Public Infrastructure Ministry, which has been allocated $38.5billion in the budget for 2019.Public Infrastructure Minister David PattersonAt one point, Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland, had Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira’s microphone cut off even as she argued for more time for her side to scrutinize the Ministry’s budget. The extended time was, however, granted.Opposition Parliamentarian Irfaan Ali questioned the amount allocated to renting buildings. A whopping $199.7 million was allocated for renting of buildings, which Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson explained would be used to house offices for the United Nations (UN) branches in Guyana.“This is just one building, one complex. It’s immediately south of the US Embassy. It is to house the United Nations. The UN has, at this moment, six offices. The FAO building, the Unicef building, the UNDP (United Nations Development Program), PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation), UNAIDS, all of which (we will house).”According to Patterson, the intention is to provide one consolidated complex that could meet the standards of security necessary for the agencies. But when Ali grilled the Minister about whether acquisition of the buildings — which will carry an average monthly cost of over $15 million — went through competitive tender, things became murky.Patterson informed the House that he worked on the basis of a shortlist of requirements provided by the UN. An impassioned Ali pointed out that tax payers’ money would still be used to cover the expenses of renting the complex. To this Patterson noted that when everything is considered, the Government got value for money with the arrangement.The Minister was also quizzed on the allocation of $374.8 million to Kwakwani Utilities Incorporated. Opposition Parliamentarian Juan Edghill noted that a similar sum was allocated in 2018, and the community suffered from electricity shortage.Edghill questioned what betterment would be brought to the community. Eventually, the Ministry’s budget was passed in the Committee of Supply.Government has allocated $38.5 billion in the 2019 budget to carry out several infrastructural projects.This had included, among other things, money for construction of 6 kilometres of paved roads in Linden, extensions of the highway from Hope Canal to Mahaica, and a feasibility study for a Linden-to-Mabura link.When it comes to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Finance Minister Winston Jordan had said the monies allocated for all capital projects constitute 71.9 per cent of the total Ministry budget. The money is also an increase from the $32 billion the Ministry received last year.When it comes to the East Coast of Demerara (ECD), Jordan revealed that the projected cost of the East Coast/East Bank road linkage project (Ogle bypass) has jumped from US$50 million to US$120 million. He noted that Government would approach its bilateral partner — in this case the Export-Import Bank of India — for more funds.This EBD-ECD Bypass project is expected to be 26 kilometres of constructed road linking two of the country’s main thoroughfares. This new road link would also be connected to key communities in Georgetown and along the East Bank of Demerara. Those include Diamond, Mocha, Eccles – all on the East Bank – and Aubrey Barker Road in Georgetown.last_img read more

GRA mulls radical shake-up of tax exemption system

first_img– considering implementing tax credits to create “level playing field”The days of tax exemptions may be winding down, with the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) revealing that it is considering radical cut backs on the system and replacing it with tax credits.GRA Commissioner General Godfrey Statia made this announcement at a business luncheon hosted by the Guyana Manufacturers and Services Association (GMSA). Statia cited the historical abuse of the system and the results of the 2016 Tax Reform Commission. According to the finance specialist, replacing exemptionsGRA Commissioner General Godfrey Statiawith credit would assist in creating a level playing field.“It is a known fact that exemptions are abused and may eventually be replaced with tax credits, thereby creating a level playing field for taxpayers. The Authority is aware that it spends too much resources policing this activity (exemptions), which could be better spent widening the tax net and improving tax efficiency.”Instead of reducing taxable income, tax credits actually reduce the amount of taxes owed. But while tax exemptions are still available, Statia was critical of some businesses not taking advantage of them.“Many businesses also do not adequately realise various tax concessions available under the Act. Until the advent of tax credits, maybe introduced instead of exemptions, businesses must trudge through the various Acts, small businesses in particular do not reap the rewards available under the Small Business Act.”The Guyana Revenue Authority“Exemptions go a begging and the various allowances are often not utilised. Yet, complaints are made when foreign companies benefit and local companies do not. These are available to all competitors in the market and should be used.”In 2015, the Government had established the Tax Reform Committee headed by Dr Maurice Odle. The Committee’s mandate was to examine the country’s taxation system and make recommendations for fixing it. The Committee had reported its findings to the Finance Minister in January 2016.Among its recommendations were an Income Tax threshold of $750,000 with progressive rates of taxation from 20 per cent to 35 per cent, reintroduction of estate duties and levies on tobacco and alcohol.Red tapeMeanwhile, Statia defended the Authority against reports of the sloth and red tape businesses encounter when trying to access tax exemptions. According to Statia, in some cases, incomplete files are sent from the recommending agency to the GRA.“The Authority is usually blamed for holding up exemptions granted by the sister agencies. In the majority of cases, this is not so. Since incomplete files cannot be processed, to alleviate this problem, the Authority has written its sister agencies as to the requirement of documents with each application and has requested meetings with each agency with the view of minimising the time and effort to complete these transactions,” he said.A poignant case of these reports are the tax exemptions mining operators were supposed to access. Back in 2015, the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) had signed agreements with the Guyana Energy Agency, the GRA and Guyana Geology and Mines Commission.These agreements had included the granting of exemptions from customs duties on fuel and equipment for eligible miners. But with an initial lifespan of six months, miners complained bitterly that the time elapsed, with many not benefiting.The GGDMA has said that operators were not able to benefit from the grant of duty-free concessions on mining equipment, vehicles and fuel, owing to the red tape experienced at the regulatory agencies involved.As a result, miners have for some time been raising issues such as the spike in taxes across the board implemented by the Government; in particular, the increase of the Tributors Tax from 10 to 20 per cent, Value Added Tax on heavy-duty mining equipment and the two per cent Withholding Tax.last_img read more

French TV technology and services provider Netgem

first_imgFrench TV technology and services provider Netgem posted a small net loss on increased revenues for the first half as it continued to invest in its expansion plans in Europe, Asia Pacific and Mexico.The group posted revenues of €37.7 million, up 12%, with a net loss of €0.6 million, compared with a profit of €3.7 million last year. Operating income dropped from €4.1 million to zero.The company continued to invest in its hardware and software platforms as well as the Videofutur service. Netgem TV, its services arm, posted revenues of 217.9 million, up 19%, while the NetBox arm saw a 7% revenue increase to €19.8 million. The company said that more of its software value was now coming from mobile and cloud activities.The company merged its VideoFutur brand into a new pan-European Netgem TV unit, offering a fully managed and shared TV platform as a service in the cloud.last_img read more

The theme for this years Summer Jamm was Let th

first_img“The theme for this year’s Summer Jamm was ‘Let the Dance Begin’ – and it really was a great family fun weekend and fantastic celebration of all types of dance and music.“Indeed, Council is dedicated to providing high quality, family friendly events to ensure people of all ages can enjoy them.“It was therefore great to see crowds out enjoying and supporting the festival programme – and what a way start to our summer season!“I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank all the event sponsors, those who organised the event and of course everyone who took part.”Sun smiles on ‘hugely successful’ Summer Jamm 2018 was last modified: June 25th, 2018 by John2John2 Tags: Mayor John BoyleSun smiles on ‘hugely successful’ Summer Jamm 2018 Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr John Boyle said:“I am delighted that this year’s Summer Jamm was such a huge success.“It was also great to see the sun come out to smile on festival goers – and the town come alive with music, song and dance.“I was also delighted to see so many young people involved in the festival and enjoying it so much. ShareTweet ‘SUMMER Jamm’ took over Strabane at the weekend as large crowds attended events from Friday 22nd to Sunday 24 June. The event brought the best of rock, pop, country, Irish folk and brass music to town alongside family friendly events, a local market, arts and crafts and workshops throughout the three day festival.Thousands turned out over the long weekend to enjoy the events, which were organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council and supported by SGN Natural Gas and the Strabane Business Improvement District (BIDS).last_img read more