– expected to be major driver of public revenues for 2019At a time when sections of society have already been complaining about the tax burden, a report into economic conditions in the Caribbean, Latin America and particularly Guyana, has found that tax collection is projected to be on the rise.According to the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) report of 2019, public revenues in the Caribbean are expected to continue to rise in 2019. However, this increase will be at a slower pace in 2018, from 27 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018 to 27.7 per cent this year.According to the report, this GDP point percentage increase will be because of higher tax and non-tax revenues. According to the report, countries including Guyana, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago will see an increase of more than one per cent of the GDP point in 2019.Providing a breakdown of Guyana’s taxes from 2017 to 2018, the report found that the total tax burden increased to 28.8 per cent of the GDP in 2018, up from 26.1 per cent. Direct taxes for 2018 showed a marginal increase to 10.8 per cent of GDP, while indirect taxes increased from 13.6 per cent to 15.0 per cent of the GDP.It had been reported in the 2018 End of Year outcome report that the Government collected $198.5 billion in tax revenue for last year. While this amounts to a large chunk of Government revenue, the reality is that it is below the 2019 budget projections.According to the report, the $198.5 billion is a decline of $1.0 billion or 0.5 per cent below the revised projection in Budget 2019. It noted that in 2018, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) remitted $117.5 billion or 59.2 per cent of tax revenue collections.This, the report says, reflects higher remissions for companies and businesses. Meanwhile, non-tax revenue increased by $0.8 billion, 4.8 per cent above the $17.4 billion projected in Budget 2019. Government deficit was marginally smaller than expected, the report shows.“The Central Government recorded a fiscal deficit of $27.3 billion in 2018, or 3.4 per cent of GDP, smaller than the projected deficit of $31.2 billion, or 3.9 per cent of GDP, projected in the 2019 Budget,” the report states.“The smaller than anticipated deficit was due to lower capital and current expenditures. Tax and non-tax revenue collections in 2018 were $216.7 billion, 0.1 per cent below the projection in Budget 2019.”In September of last year, GRA Commissioner General Godfrey Statia had disclosed that billions of dollars were collected as of the end of August through the imposition of a tax amnesty.According to Statia at the time, the GRA had managed to collect over $5 billion so far and this figure may increase. Statia also reminded that this was the last extension that will be granted to the amnesty, while encouraging defaulters to pay.The tax amnesty worked by allowing taxpayers who file and pay all principal taxes on or before June 30, 2018, to have all their interest and penalties waived, while those who filed and paid all principal taxes between July 1, 2018, and September 30, 2018, would have 50 per cent of interest and penalties waived.At the end of the previous amnesty, which ended in June 2018, it was announced that $3 billion was raked in, but this number had subsequently climbed. The final amnesty ended on September 30 last year.