Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh today took a tough line against businesses that have raised the prices for basic goods even while eliminating Value Added Tax (VAT).
According to him, the Guyana Finance Authority (GRA) has been given a full push to get businesses involved in these unscrupulous practices.
“There are a number of factors that influence prices. One of course is taxation. We, as you know, abolished the VAT and reduced taxation on a number of items, ”the Finance Minister reminded during an interview during the outskirts of this morning’s event.
“In some cases we have seen price adjustments, in other cases we have not seen the level of price adjustments we need. I have specifically told the GRA that they are expected to enforce the removal of VAT on all items now zero-rated. Therefore, none of these companies should be charging VAT on any of the zero rated items. It is against the law to do so and the GRA has been instructed to enforce this provision, ”said Dr Singh.
However, he noted, “we do not operate in a price control environment”.
“What is unfortunate is that some unscrupulous business, even if they deduct the VAT, they have raised their prices to compensate for the VAT. And that’s really an unprincipled thing to do, ”the Finance Minister expressed.
He urged people to call businesses engaged in such practices.
“Because the objective of eliminating that VAT was not to give any business the opportunity to raise their prices to compensate for the disposal of VAT. The aim of abolishing the VAT was to pass on the benefits to consumers, ”said Dr Singh.
“Ultimately, I hope competition will regulate this and that some businesses will see an opportunity to reduce their price (s). But it’s something I’m talking to the private sector about, ”he added.
Back in February, the Finance Minister had announced a number of tax measures for the 2021 budget, designed to bring relief to consumers.
This included restoring the zero-rating status of basic food items and household goods.
These items included boiled flour, basic bread, oats and cooking oil. With this, the price for these items should have dropped.