RPA calls on Govt to lower fuel taxes

first_imgAs many producers in the agricultural sector continue to face challenges in sustaining their means of livelihood, the coalition Government is once again being urged to review its tax policies on fuel with a view to easing the “burden” on the productive sector.This was the call on Wednesday by the Guyana Rice Producers Association (RPA), which reiterated its stance that rising production costs were lowering the earning power of producers.“We are calling on this Government to re-implement the sliding rate on taxes to cushion the impact of international price increases. To do nothing, but collect exorbitant taxes will stifle production and affect thousands of lives,” the Association observed via a statement.The RPA posits that farmers, who are currently harvesting, have been experiencing an increase in transportation costs from an average of $200 to $800 per bag, because access to their farmlands is poor.“Many have been forced to use a combination of poor dams and weed-infested waterways and this increase in fuel prices might very well be the proverbial last straw. Additionally, most farmers are currently involved in land preparation exercise and sowing of their fields and in the latter case, [the] most fuel is being used compared to the crop duration, so the increase is coming at a really bad time for the farmers,” the RPA noted.As reported, the fuel woes are compounded by challenges of readily accessing fertilisers owing to financial challenges.Guyana Times recently reported that many farmers who accessed fertiliser on a credit system with the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) were defaulting on their loan repayments which were due in part to millers not paying off the producers. Before the cancellation of PetroCaribe (the rice-for-oil) deal by Venezuela in 2015, farmers were obtaining premium rates for their paddy.The RPA has since said that the “good life” that the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government promised was wanting, adding that the Administration’s inaction on the matter was not an option.“We are insisting on an immediate reduction in percentage taxes being collected, and we know that the Government knows that they can still realise the amount budgeted for with a reduction. We will accept no less,” the RPA stressed.In April 2017, Mahaica farmers, whose main source of income is rice, along with cash crops, said that the taxation measures were “harsh” to them. The farmers said then that the Government has removed the list of exempted and zero-rated Value Added Tax (VAT) items, causing them to have to increase their cash crop prices, much to the dissatisfaction of their customers. The cost of production, they noted, extended to an increase in payment for fertiliser, insecticide and weedicide. Given that spare parts and machinery all now attract VAT, that “makes it more difficult for us to make ends meet as a farmer”, this newspaper reported them as saying. The Opposition – the People’s Progressive Party – had made several calls for the removal of taxes and duties on fuel for the industry, and the removal of all taxes and duties on machinery, equipment, and spares.last_img

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