Customers cry over VAT
Changes to the so-called basket of goods have left consumers worried that they might not be able to afford to feed themselves and their children as they will be forced to pay more for the goods they need.
More than 200 items including a range of fruits and vegetables, cheese, flying fish and potatoes have been removed from the basket of goods effective September 1, 2015, which means they now attract 17.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT). The new basket of goods now contains just over 150 items compared to the more than 400 on the previous list.
In making the announcement in his June 15, 2015 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler said it was a revenue raising measure designed to add $20 million to Government’s coffers during the fiscal year.
Sean Marshall, who spoke to Barbados TODAY while doing his shopping at Channell Supermarket in Collymore Rock, St Michael this week, said although he did not do much shopping, the price increases would affect how much he would spend in the future.
Supermarkets are still in the process of updating the prices on some of the items as they await the new prices from their suppliers.
“If it is that I will be [paying more for items] obviously the amount of groceries that I pick up will reduce. So if for argument sake, I used to take up four cans of tuna I might take up three instead now so as to cut back on that cost,” explained Marshall.
Saying he liked cheese, Marshall said “what is going to happen is that what you would normally get for let’s say $4 according to the kilogram you are going to get less now, but I might still want to spend the same $4. So I am going
to get less.”
Expressing his dissatisfaction with the new policy, Marshall said the cost of living was “definitely too high”.
“I am not going to be able to purchase my full basket of groceries that I normally would seeing the recent increase. It is going to drastically decrease my shopping power,” he lamented.
Also shopping at Channell Supermarket in Collymore Rock was Michelle Nurse who said she had not yet seen the list of items that were removed form the basket of goods, but she was “not pleased”.
“But we have to eat and we have to buy food,” she added.
Over at Massy Supermarkets in SkyMall Paolo Carraro was picking up some items. He told Barbados TODAY while he had yet to familiarize himself with the new list of items that would attract the 17.5 per cent VAT, it would be shopping as normal for him, at least for the time being.
“Up to now I see no difference,” he said, adding that it might affect him “in the future”.
Sylvia Atherley, a St Andrew resident who was also making a purchase at Massy Supermarket at SKyMall, said she had to eat so she would still buy what she wanted.
However, Atherley, who normally shops monthly except for the odd item, quickly pointed out that she would now have to be “more selective and buy what is necessary”.
“As opposed to just going in and taking up the stuff, you will look at the prices and make sure you double check,” said Atherley, adding that once her spending power was reduced it was more likely she would pay fewer visits to the supermarket.
One shopper at the Massy Supermarkets in SkyMall who did not want to be identified, said he was also aware that some items were removed form the basket of goods but he was yet to familiarize himself with the list.
“I believe it will affect everybody’s shopping habits,” he declared.
“You would probably limit [how much you buy] and you would cut back on the ones that are getting more expensive. I haven’t evaluated it or the effect of it too much as yet, but obviously any price increase is going to affect what you do and what you buy,” said the consumer.
He added that he anticipated an adjustment in his shopping pattern “almost immediately” after examining the list and seeing the price change.