Insensitive gift at DDL’s AGM

The decision by the directors of DDL to give attendees at the company’s Annual General Meeting on Friday April 7, 2017 a bottle of 6-year-old white rum was more than insensitive; it was insulting. Clearly, the directors could not give a damn about the hundreds of Christians who were observing Lent, arguably the most sacred period in the Christian calendar.

The Hindus must consider themselves lucky that their auspicious Navratri had ended a couple of days before the Annual General Meeting. Otherwise, they too would have been forced to accept the alcohol on offer lest they offend the prominent practising Hindus on DDL’s Board. One shareholder – a Muslim – was so offended that he sent me a photograph of the rum gift with a request that I raise the matter. Continue reading Insensitive gift at DDL’s AGM

The case for VAT on education is weak to non-existent

The decision by Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, Minister of Education, to meet five parents and Swami Aksharananda, educator, as representatives of the group protesting outside of his ministry against VAT on education services on April 5 was commendable. Coming on top of the Cabinet decision to hold a consultation with the public at the National Cultural Centre today Friday, April 7 at 11 am, there is some hope that the government is finally ready to reverse the decision to impose VAT on education.

Why it has taken the government over four months to do the right thing is baffling. Almost every argument by the government has been met with cogent, rational and compelling responses. Here are some of those arguments and the responses. Continue reading The case for VAT on education is weak to non-existent

Until there is a change in the law UG should register for VAT

I have hesitated to engage in the ongoing debate in the print media on whether the VAT being imposed on educational services extends to fees charged by the University of Guyana. However, because even the media seems unsure, I do not think further hesitation helps.

VAT is not a particularly complex tax and has a few basic principles. Section 9 of the VAT Act imposes VAT on (a), every taxable supply by a taxable person; and (b), on every import of goods or import of services, other than an exempt import. We are here concerned with (a) and can disregard (b). Because the section dealing with taxable person also refers to taxable activity, it seems preferable to look at the definition of “taxable person” before going on to examine taxable activity.

A taxable person is a person who is registered, or who is required to register under section 11 of the Act. “Person” is defined in the Act to include the State, an agency of the State, a local authority, board, natural person, trust, company, and partnership. In other words, there is no automatic or definitional exception of the state or, by extension, educational institutions funded by the State. Continue reading Until there is a change in the law UG should register for VAT

Gov’t needs to consider whether financial institutions should be allowed to operate as part of any group of companies

The traditionally reserved Bank of Guyana (the Bank) has found itself increasingly drawn into public statements and appearances over the uncertainty surrounding the foreign exchange market and the deterioration of the exchange rate of the Guyana Dollar. Of course, the Bank is in fact discharging one of its statutory functions under section 5 of the Bank of Guyana Act. i.e., “fostering domestic price stability through the promotion of stable credit and exchange conditions.”

An analysis of the causes of the current state of the foreign exchange market will require far more data than is currently available. Hopefully, the Bank will make every effort to soon publish the 2017 first quarter statistics, including foreign currency flows, and transactions with the non-bank and bank cambios. Not only will we be able to see hard evidence of anecdotal reports of foreign earnings by the agriculture sector, flows from exports and imports as well as remittances and imports, but hopefully, we can see the role and extent of some major but less discussed players in the foreign exchange market. Continue reading Gov’t needs to consider whether financial institutions should be allowed to operate as part of any group of companies

It is a misconception that the Constitution gives precedence to judges for appointment to Gecom Chairman

I have followed with more than passing interest the debate on the interpretation of Article 161 of the Constitution which deals with the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom). Article 161 (1) requires the Chairman to be full-time and mandates that he shall not engage in any other employment. The real debate however has been in relation to Article 161 (2) which deals exclusively with the Chairman and his appointment.

For brevity, let me state that 161 (2) sets out the classes of persons eligible for appointment as Chairman as: current or former judges, persons qualified to be appointed as a judge (which is seven years after admission to the Bar) or other fit and proper person. The persons shall be named in a list submitted to the President by the Leader of the Opposition, not unacceptable to the President. Article 161 (2) has a proviso which states that if the Leader of the Opposition fails to submit a list, the President will appoint as Chairman a judge, former judge or one qualified to be a judge. Continue reading It is a misconception that the Constitution gives precedence to judges for appointment to Gecom Chairman