…decries negative impact of VAT on electricity, forestry…less red tape needed for smoother business operations – UK High CommissionerPresident of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) Ltd, Shyam Nokta, has highlighted the impact of the 2017 budget on the country’s manufacturing sector. According to him, it has caused a reduction in cash flow for businesses.He made these comments at the GMSA’s Annual Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the Pegasus Hotel on Friday evening, where sixteen companies and sector stakeholder Arnon Adams were all honoured for their contributions to the manufacturing sector.GMSA president, Shyam Nokta, addressing the gathering at the Annual Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the Pegasus Hotel on FridayThe GMSA president pointed out that measures such as the re-categorising of zero & standard-rated items and the inclusion of Value Added Tax (VAT) on forestry products and electricity have affected growth of the sector.“These have impacted in a negative way on the manufacturing sector, and have contributed in many instances to increases in prices and reduced cash flows,” he observed.Since implementation of these measures, Nokta noted, GMSA has been engaging Government ministers and technical officers, offering recommendations to foster economic growth.“This engagement was followed up by the GSMA engaging the Ministry of Finance as part of the Ministry of Finance’s 2018 Budget consultations, where he put forward a number of proposals… Paramount is the need for urgent action to address our transmission and distribution system while advancing mature and feasible initiatives for renewable and clean energy,” Nokta told the gathering of industry representatives and other stakeholders.Nokta said the GMSA, in examining Budget 2018, is pleased that several measures advocated for in the area of forestry and wood processing were adopted. These measures include the exemption of VAT on logs and rough lumber, and budgetary allocation of $ 50 million to partner with the private sector to establish a consolidated dimensional stock yard.“The measures regarding imported pine are also welcome. However, much more still needs to be done for forestry sector to recover from its current decline,” Nokta added.Also attending the event, United Kingdom High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn, spoke on Guyana dropping two places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, and suggested that less red tape is needed to facilitate smoother business operations.“Ensuring businesses can operate whilst also meeting the necessary legislation is a key to the growth of the economy,” Quinn said. “Bureaucracy must be reduced, and the ability of entrepreneurs to set up businesses must be made easier,” he stated.The UK High Commissioner indicated that his country is supporting measures of the Business Ministry on “improving Guyana’s business environment”.Last month, it was reported that the World Bank highlighted a decline for conducting business in Guyana. The report for World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking for 2018 showed that Guyana slipped two places – from 124 in 2017 to 126 for 2018.Doing business, measures’ regulations that affect various areas regarding the life of a business or in setting up new businesses; some of the categories considered to determine ‘the ease of doing business’ were: “starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, and trading across borders. The assessment uses various indicators to analyse economic outcomes and identify the appropriate reforms for business regulation.Friday night’s ceremony at the Pegasus saw attendance of many dignitaries, private and public sector representatives, and honourees which included Fibre Tech Industrial Plastics, Umami Inc, Sterling Products, Bounty Farm, Pandama Retreat and Whinery, and the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department.GMSA has been honouring both large and small scale members of the manufacturing sector for their contribution to Guyana’s economy.