Disabled community lauds special measures in 2019 budget

Members of the community of persons living with disabilities in Guyana are commending the Coalition Government for the particular interest it has placed on their lives in the 2019 National Budget. They say that this administration is much more sensitive to the needs of persons living with disabilities.

For the first time such persons will be able to purchase vehicles free of excise duties and Value Added Tax (VAT). They will also be granted tax rebates on smart phones equipped with accessibility features that allow visually and hearing-impaired persons to afford these invaluable communication devices.

Leroy Phillips

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordon made the announcement on Monday in his Budget 2019 presentation.

This particular announcement caught on quickly and several disabled persons said that they are very excited about the concessions.

Chairman (ag.) of the Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities in Guyana, Cecil Morris, told DPI that they will help certain organisation to acquire vehicles to transport their members. Morris believes that this development is proof that Government is conscious of the difficulties these people live with.

Ultimately, more persons living with disabilities will be able to access the internet and the apps that were made especially for them, and transportation has always been a major issue in Guyana for these persons. “Government has proven that is much more sensitive to people’s wants and needs, and we are happy that they see it fit to do things to benefit persons with a disability…,” he intimated.

Leroy Phillips, a volunteer with the National Commission on Disability, said that Government has made a “stellar move” with the two new developments.

“Persons who wish to own their own car, their own vans or trucks can now have those designed in a manner to accommodate them. I look forward to being able to take advantage of that provision,” he stated, and went on to talk about the many benefits that disabled people will have with easier acquisition of smartphones.

ganesh_singhDisability rights advocate, Ganesh Singh, explained that persons with disabilities already face challenges utilizing many public services such as transportation.

He said whoever made the recommendation to the government on behalf of the community must be commended. (Editor’s Note: Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes, made the recommendations in her Ministerial submission to the Budget office.)

“Many persons, especially wheelchair users, face difficulties moving from one location to another. Many taxis drivers do not want to take their wheelchairs, neither do minibus drivers. So, with the removal of the excise tax, these persons may be able to find the money to secure a vehicle to transport themselves,” he stated.

Minister Jordan stated, however, that the Commission must certify that the person(s), vehicle(s) and the smart phone(s) are eligible before the concessions are granted.

The minister said the two initiatives solidify the government’s commitment to equity and inclusion for all citizens, particularly with respect to Information and Communication Technologies and related devices and applications.

Source: Alexis Rodney – DPI