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Retroactive Tax Waiver… By Fareeza HaniffThe Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) is still awaiting a response from the Ministry of Finance as it relates to the union’s request for the Ministry to waive the income tax on the three per cent retroactive pay that sugar workers recently received.President of the union, Komal Chand,Starlin Castro Cubs Jersey, told Kaieteur News yesterday that the union refuses to ‘run behind’ the Ministry for a response, as it is the responsibility of the Finance Ministry to at least acknowledge receipt of the letter sent to them.GAWU President: Komal Chand “As a Government Ministry, they have the right and the responsibility to respond to the union,” Chand told Kaieteur News yesterday.He explained that the union will have to remember the ‘unsympathetic’ reaction of the Ministry to the union and the workers, as they have poor regard for the sugar workers, whom he noted are important and productive to Guyana’s economy.The letter of request for the tax waiver was sent since last month to the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, and when the Ministry did not reply in what was considered due time,Hank Aaron Braves Throwback Jersey, Chand had noted that the government institution had disrespected sugar workers, organisations and the union by not even acknowledging receipt of the letter.At that time,Dani Alves Barcelona Jersey, a number of sugar workers protested in front of the Ministry, demanding that their request be fulfilled.However, despite this, the workers were paid on December 24th, 2009 without a waiver on the tax.GAWU is arguing, as indicated, that taxing the pay will effectively send sugar workers home with only two per cent. Chand is still adamant that the Finance Ministry should give the sugar workers the tax waiver, as adjustments can still be made to their salary.During the protest, the union representatives, carrying placards,Philadelphia Phillies Joaquin Benoit Jersey, also accused the Finance Minister of lying to the public when he said that government only invested a total of US$113.1 million in the Skeldon sugar factory, when the money was a loan.Similarly, a US$12M funding for the establishment of a sugar packaging plant represented monies from the European Union,James Patrick Rangers Jersey, as part of the programme to assist Guyana following phased sugar price cuts in that region.GAWU, in the letter to Dr Singh, requested the Ministry’s “consideration to waive the Income Tax on the retroactive payment of three (3) per cent from 1st January, 2009 arising from the Gobind Ganga Arbitral Tribunal recommendation.”GAWU, while presenting its case for the tax waiver, said that similar deserving steps were taken in the past when public servants received a special $4,000 allowance awarded to them last year.The letter, written by GAWU’s General Secretary, Seepaul Narine, was also copied to Minister of Agriculture, Robert Persaud, and GuySuCo’s Chief Executive Officer,John Gibson Team North America Jersey, Errol Hanoman.In October, wage talks between GuySuCo and GAWU broke down after the former refused to budge from a three per cent offer. GAWU had demanded 15 per cent but came down to 10 per cent.Conciliation talks went nowhere and Government stepped to impose compulsory arbitration.A three-person Tribunal headed by Bank of Guyana’s Dr. Gobind Ganga recommended a three per cent increase in early December.
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