The Business Community of East Berbice Corentyne met with Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin, at the Nand Persaud Conference Hall recently, asked for the government to remove the unfair competition which they say is affecting their businesses. The businessmen pointed to the smuggling of agricultural and other products from Suriname.
Mr. Jaichand, a businessman, called for the legalisation of cross border trading to end smuggling, Other persons spoke of the need to reduce some of the taxes on rice to make it more competitive as they pointed out that US rice farmers receive nearly 40 percent in subsidy, and businessman Mr. Ragendra noted that Value Added Tax (VAT) is being charged on even bran and cane husks.
In response, Gaskin said he will not allow illegal businesses to destroy legal businesses and would work to get those businesses regularize. However, there are challenges since the borders are largely unprotected and there is a need for these borders to be patrolled effectively by coast guards.
The minister explained that, VAT should not be a problem for businesses since they get back the difference between the Input and Output charged. The problem is that GRA takes a long time to remit VAT to businesses. Gaskin noted. He further explained that the Government needs to look at long-term solutions to the problems faced by farmers. He promised to look in to the issues raised.
The Minister, who was continuing his ministerial outreach to regions, told the residents that the agriculture industry must lobby as is done in the US, since lobbying will effectively allow their concerns to be ventilated at different fora. He pointed out that, there are developmental programmes on the government’s agenda so that all areas and citizens across the country can benefit.