…“Guyanese it seems are destined to remain in poverty” ‒ Central Corentyne ChamberPresident of the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce (CCCC) has expressed alarm at the 2017 Budget, and is calling for Government to reconsider its proposal to have Value Added Tax (VAT) on water and electricity.President of the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, Mohammed RaffikAccording to President of CCCC, Mohammed Raffik, the Budget proposes placing more taxes on an already burdened population: “One item that has jumped out at us and one which we have found to be totally reprehensible is the imposition of VAT on electricity and water. This is a real ‘sleight of the hand’ operation by the Minister, reducing VAT by 2 per cent and then coming in through the backdoor and poking it back at us. We are calling for this measure to be immediately withdrawn,” Raffik said.He also noted that the majority of ordinary Guyanese pay more than $10,000 for electricity and $1500 in water bills on a monthly basis: “This means their bills will automatically go up by 14 per cent which may work out more than the salary increases they will get.”The CCCC head stated that the two per cent transfer charge on the sale of a vehicle is another backdoor tax and should also be withdrawn. According to Raffik, the increase in the threshold with a one-third measure of exempt income is welcomed and with a higher bracket of 40 per cent the effective tax rate as shown in the calculations, will be lower. “But why spoil this desirable measure by taking it back with the next hand. Guyanese, it seems, are destined to remain in poverty,” the Chamber head added.Raffik has promised to give a detailed comment on the impact the $250 billion Budget will have on Berbice.