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Exotic list

BRA raises concern that Govt’s Basket of Goods is no longer basic

Frozen spare ribs, tenderloin and sirloin steak, ham shoulders, Pacific salmon, snapper, croaker, grouper and sea trout are among several exotic items that have found their way onto Government’s zero-rated Basket Of Goods, which was originally conceptualized as a means of rendering relief to the island’s poor.

Atlantic salmon and tenderloin and sirloin steaks are also zero-rated.

Atlantic salmon and tenderloin and sirloin steaks are also zero-rated.

Also exempted from Value Added Tax (VAT) charges of 17.5 per cent are dogfish, sailfish, spearfish –– fresh or chilled for processing –– grated and powdered cheese, blue-veined cheese and virtually all manner of imported nuts, from Brazil nuts to cashew nuts –– with shell and without shell, fresh or dried –– to almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and fresh pistachios.

Strawberries and a range of imported specialty cheeses       have also found their way onto the official Basket of Goods.

Strawberries and a range of imported specialty cheeses have also found their way onto the official Basket of Goods.

The so-called list of  basic food items also includes ortiniques, Ugli fruit, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, mulberries, loganberries, blackberries and the like, as well as “wholly milled” and “semi-milled” rice, cocoa powder, chocolate and malt extract.

Barbados TODAY has obtained a copy of the 400-item zero-rated list, which is currently before the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) for review before presentation to Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler. Officials say the recommendations are also expected to inform the upcoming Budget, while noting that as it currently stands the Basket Of Goods is valued at over $80 million in terms of exemptions and over $450 million in terms of annual customs value.

Officials also say the list could easily be slashed in half therefore increasing the Government’s tax take from the VAT by over $40 million and still meet the relief requirements of the poor, with items such as rice, peas, corn, lentils, pumpkin, sweet peppers, celery, asparagus, string beans and other leguminous vegetables, as well as carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, dolphin, minced beef, bread and salt likely to remain unchanged.

Asked to explain the inclusion of non-basic items, officials suggested it might have been a case of Government seeking to aid out vital sectors such as tourism.

However, with tourism now getting concessions under the Tourism Development Act, it is believed this would cushion the impact of any pending changes.

A much more conservative basket of food items was first introduced on October 1, 1997, after the VAT was implemented on January 1 of that year.

At the same time exemptions were offered in terms of educational or scientific literature, recorded on eitherelectronic or printed medium, as well as on construction services for residential houses.

However, the list of exemptions has grown significantly since then, with the International Monetary Fund recently calling for sweeping tax reforms and for the Freundel Stuart administration to rein in its policies on VAT.          

5 Responses to Exotic list

  1. Wayne P Hoyte
    Wayne P Hoyte December 13, 2014 at 5:35 am

    this is to benefit who? the few that can afford? somebody just dont get it.

  2. Anson Sobers
    Anson Sobers December 13, 2014 at 6:03 am

    This list is definitely not for the poor. The hotel sector already pays VAT at a lower rate. Basic items should include the necessities used everyday as well as chicken and fresh fish and veg. This will also encourage the poor to eat healthy therefore preventing some chronic illnesses. The Government of Barbados needs to do a serious overhaul and look after the less fortunate in society.

    • Terry Clarke
      Terry Clarke December 13, 2014 at 8:26 am

      Agree, this also reduces the health bill the Ministry of Health undertakes yearly. A Healthy People, A Healthy Society!!

  3. Anna Bovell
    Anna Bovell December 13, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Thank You !

  4. Maxine Baker December 13, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    This information should not engender in us the need to complain about the selections of these goods.

    Why not look to see what would be beneficial to you and purchase those items to add to those that you have been purchasing? Stop looking at those with the money.

    You may not know this, but try walking behind someone whom you know to be wealthy while they are in the supermarket shopping – though they have the money to purchase what they want, they pick up items that are damaging to their health. I know what I am saying.

    There was a wealthy man in my district with whom I went to shop for his household. I encouraged him to begin the purchase of items that would have been beneficial to him. I instructed his helpers as to what and when they should feed him and his health improved overtime until he misread my intentions and i had to “put him in his place”. In anger, he then reverted to his former diet and way of doing things. He fell sick again and as I was reliably informed, the doctor advised him to return to the new diet which I had stuck to his cupboards. I believe that he was a bit too late by then.

    Before he went into transition, it would appear that whenever he had spoken to others about me, he would always use the word “Nurse”. He was aware that I had done much studying overtime and had thought that “Nursing” had been one of my studies. I do have an interest in Alternative healthy living – not Nursing – and though I am unable to help my self in that the alternative way as I would want to do, I help those who can afford to help themselves!!!

    Stop finding fault for the sake of opposition. Let intelligence be the hallmark of the day!


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