Business sector lobbying hard for tax rollbacks

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The island’s business sector is going all out in its lobbying support for two bills introduced by Sen. James Moylan which seek to roll back the tax increases implemented last year.

The two measures, Bill 9-35 and Bill 10-35, will have a public hearing tomorrow, Tuesday, at 9 a.m. under the committee on general government operations, appropriations and housing chaired by Sen. Joe S. San Agustin.

Bill 9-35 proposes to reduce the Business Privilege Tax (BPT) from 5 percent to 4 percent, essentially taking it back to rate it was prior to April 2018 while Bill 10-35 proposes to reduce the Liquid Fuel Tax by $0.04 per gallon, which is the rate prior to January 1, 2018.

Both bills were introduced on January 7, 2019, which was the inauguration day for the 35th Guam Legislature, and the first two measures introduced by Moylan.

The two bills have been endorsed by the Guam Chamber of Commerce whose members expressed dismay when the previous legislature proposed to make the tax increase permanent.

The Chamber is asking its members to attend the public hearing or at least monitor the proceedings on TV or live stream.

Chamber members have also been asked to provide oral or written testimony because the public hearing may be the one and only opportunity to make a statement on the issue with the 35th Guam Legislature and express support for the bill.

Bobby A. Shringi, who chairs the Chamber’s legislative review and business advocacy committee, is also asking Chamber members to bring a friend, family members, co-workers or staff to the hearing.

“Testimonies, where stories are shared, are effective, but a crowd creates a much larger impact. We are asking members to bring signs as well, expressing their support for Bill 9,” Shringi said.

The Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association is also supporting Moylan’s bills, stating that a majority of GHRA’s members voted against the BPT increase last year.

GHRA is urging all its members to attend the public hearing as well as provide oral and written testimony.

Joe Arnett, chairman of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, said the tax rollbacks are necessary because Guam’s economy has essentially been flat for the last five years.

“Our gross island product shows $5 billion for the last five years. That means the economy is not growing. Despite all the things that you hear, the economy is actually shrinking. You can talk to many people in many industries and they’ll tell you that the economy is not well,” Arnett said during an interview with Andrea Pellacani on NewsTalk K57.

Senator Moylan acknowledged that reducing both taxes could create certain fiscal challenges, but he said he is committed to addressing those concerns.

Earlier, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero had requested senators to preserve the status quo and keep the taxes temporarily, at least until GovGuam stabilizes financially.

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