1999 LEGISLATION

Highlighted hereunder is legislation passed in 1999 which is of particular interest to the business community.

Legislation

Name of Act

Objective

Effective Date

Act No. 2 of 1999

Deeds Registry Act 1999

To set the stage for the institutional strengthening and modernisation of the Deeds Registry by removing the Registry from the public service. The Act provides for the establishment of an Advisory Board and for the Deeds Registry to be established as a corporate body.

Not yet in force

Act No. 7 of 1999

Termination of Employment & Severance Pay (Amendment) Act 1999

To restrict circumstances under which severance pay is payable by providing that severance allowance is only payable if the employment is terminated by the employer or by mutual consent after the employer has given notice to the employee. No severance allowance is payable where the employee is entitled to a gratuity or pension under any law, collective labor agreement or contract of employment.

July 26, 1999

No. 8 of 1999

Factory Hours & Holidays Act, Cap 95:02

To bring Guyana's laws in conformity with the International Labor Organisation Convention #138 which provides for the minimum age of employment to be 15 years.

Sept 13, 1999

Act No. 9 of 1999

Employment of Young Persons and Children (Amendment) Act 1999

As for Act No. 8

Sept 20, 1999

Act No. 16 of 1999

Fiscal Enactments (Amendment) Act

Amends the First Schedule of the Income Tax (in Aid of Industry) Act to include companies engaged in "ceramics and sanitary napkins as qualifying for accelerated allowances. Amends the Property Tax Act increasing the threshold at which individuals must file returns from "five hundred thousand dollars " to one “million five hundred thousand dollars”.

Dec 31, 1999

Regulation 10 of 1999 Made under the Income Tax Act (Cap. 81:01)

Income Tax (Depreciation Rates) Regulations 1999

To increase from 20% to 50% the annual allowance for tax depreciation on “electronic” items. Comments: The Regulations sought to be amended refer to “electric” and not “electronic” items. By the date of publication of the Regulation the submission date for Y/A 99 (Apr 30, 99) would long have been passed.

Y/A 1999

Ram & McRae’s Comments:

Bill Number 11 of 1999 - the Caribbean Investment Fund Bill 1999 which was published on June 30, 1999 was not passed into law. In an effort to meet an identified gap in the financing requirements of the region, the Caricom Heads of Government at their 12th meeting agreed to support and facilitate the establishment of a Caribbean Investment Fund to attract capital and investment to the region.

The Minister addressed the necessity for this Bill but gave no reason for the delay.

As part of the conditionality to which Guyana is subject, it has passed a large number of legislation which are either yet to be brought into effect or are not properly executed. It is over on year since the Securities Industry Act was passed but the Council required under the Act has still not been appointed. The same situation applies to the Insurance Act which requires the appointment of a Commissioner of Insurance and an Insurance Arbitration Board.

The guidelines required to give effect to the 1998 Amendment to the Income Tax (in Aid of Industry) Act are yet to be issued creating further uncertainty in the business community.

The present arrangements for the administration of the finance functions are clearly confusing and inadequate. Focus last year called for a strengthening of the Ministry of Finance with a strong Finance Minister, supported by a Junior Ministry of Finance and a team of competent professionals. Instead, just the opposite has taken place and the Ministry is now less able to execute some of the onerous obligations imposed under legislation for which it has statutory responsibility.