Guam lawmakers debate GRT rollback

By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Variety News Staff
March 5, 2004

HAGÅTÑA — Guam senators support the bill that would repeal the gross receipt tax increase, but they won’t let the discussion go without frills.

The debate at yesterday’s legislative session wasn’t about the merits of the GRT rollback, but about whether there was a need to include “other issues” in the discussion.

Republican senators wanted to make the discussion plain, simple and straight to the point by focusing on the main intent of Bill 267 — the reversion of the GRT rate from 6 percent to 4 percent. But Democrats believed that all sections of the bill introduced by Sen. Toni Sanford, D-Agana Heights, could not be done away with.

Sen. Robert Klitzkie, R-Yigo, proposed to amend the bill by striking all other sections and leaving only the one that provides for the reversion of the GRT rate to 4 percent by April 1. “Let us focus on what we are here for today,” he said.

Klitzkie’s Republican colleagues agreed that the discussion should not be overshadowed by “unrelated issues.”

But Sen. Randy Cunliffe, D-Tamuning, in opposing Klitzkie’s proposed amendments, said that if the other sections were deleted, the bill — which seeks to repeal a particular law — would be left with nothing to repeal.

Bill 267 includes provisions that set the tax-filing deadline, establish the electronic filing system for monthly returns, and require the governor to submit a revised fiscal budget reflective of the revenue reductions from the GRT rollback.

Sanford defended her bill, saying its provisions were meant to address other issues that would entail the GRT rollback.

Sen. Lou Leon Guerrero, D-Tamuning, said the bill would clarify the task of the Department of Revenue and Taxation.

According to Vice Speaker Frank Aguon, D-Yona, “we...want the governor to give us an adjusted budget that would reflect the revenues without the GRT increase. We’re making a tough decision here and I don’t want the people to think that we’re doing this because it is election year.”

As of press time yesterday, senators were still discussing the bill.

Sanford urged her colleagues to pass the bill, saying that “we promised the people that we would repeal the GRT tax increase once we’re stable.”


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