Almost 40,000 vehicles imported last year compared to 14,000 in 2019

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
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With almost 40,000 vehicles imported by Guyanese in 2023, over double what was imported in 2019, this is just one manifestation of what President Dr Irfaan Ali has referred to as an increase in disposable income among the population due to government policies.

President Ali made this observation during the 58th Independence Flag Raising Ceremony held in Region Ten (Upper Demerara-Berbice), where he said that vehicle imports have risen dramatically from 2019, the last full year of the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) government.

“When you look at the policies, to improve disposable income. Let us look at one example. When you look at the vehicles that were imported into this country in 2019. It was 14,000 vehicles. Last year, we imported almost three times the number of vehicles we imported in 2019,” President Ali said.

“Close to 40,000 vehicles were imported in 2023, compared to 14,000 in 2019. Thousands more Guyanese are now owning their own homes. What this tells you? This tells you that our policy to provide more disposable income to the population is working. The prosperity we want to build in every home is working. And the policies are delivering results.”

In 2020, soon after the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government came to power, the Government reversed the ban on the importation of vehicles older than eight years that was introduced by the former APNU/AFC Government back in 2016. The ban had been seen by many as anti-poor and anti-business, covering cars, vans, busses, Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), and pickups.

One of the government’s policies aimed at increasing disposable income, according to the President, was the removal of excise tax on fuel in 2022. It was a decision prompted by the rising cost of living at the time, but it also had the welcome side effect of dramatically reducing fuel smuggling.

Before removing the excise tax on fuel entirely in 2022, the Government had been steadily reducing the rate. For instance, the rate went from 50 per cent to 35 per cent in February 2021, and then from 35 per cent to 20 per cent in October 2021.

This was in keeping with Government’s policy to adjust the taxes on fuel, to mitigate the impact of rising fuel prices on the world market. The Government’s intervention saw gas prices at the pump charged by State-owned Guyana Oil Company (GuyOil) being reduced from $269 per litre to $215 per litre.

Additionally, diesel prices were reduced by 15 per cent from $265 per litre to $225 per litre. These changes took effect from October 2, 2022. According to President Ali, no other country in the world can boast of such dramatic savings on fuel imports, at a cost bourne by the state.

“To ensure we secure the livelihood of our population, we sacrificed and zeroed the excise tax on fuel imports. Zeroed it since COVID. We have not collected a single cent in tax. Which means that we have absorbed and taken away from you a burden of more than $60 Billion, that would have been passed on to you in added charges. No other country, has done this in such a sustained way, over four years. Saving the consumers of this country, $60 Billion,” the Head of State said.

The dramatic reduction in fuel smuggling is evidenced in the Auditor General’s 2022 report, where it was revealed that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) collected $7.2 million in fines and $1 million in sales of seizures. Interestingly, however, the number of files opened on the seizure of goods declined by 64 per cent from 2021 to 2022, equivalent to $193.6 million.

GRA then explained the reason behind the reduced money collected by its law enforcement department over that period. According to them, the Government’s decision to remove excise tax from fuel in March 2022 has also had a positive effect on combating fuel smuggling.