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KPMG wary of duty free zones

One of Barbados’ largest providers of audit, tax and advisory services, KPMG, is warning that the creation of duty-free shopping zones in the country could lead to a decline in commercial activity outside of those areas.

Presenting Government’s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals on Tuesday, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler announced the creation of these shopping zones to enable Barbadians and visitors to make purchases in foreign currency only.

Possible areas for the duty-free zones include City of Bridgetown, Holetown, Hastings/Worthing and the two main ports of entry.

A duty-free Bridgetown is expected by December 2016, however the times for the other areas is yet to be determined.

The proposal is expected to result in increased duty-free shopping and a reduction in the loss of foreign currency.

But commenting on the proposal KPMG said: “This should increase commercial activity in these zones but may cause a decline in commercial activity outside the duty free zones.”

While Caribbean travellers can shop without paying duty at virtually any airport, certain destinations and ports have become famous for their concentration of duty-free shopping, where visitors can find jewellery, watches, perfume, liquor and other goods at a deep discount – 25 to 40 per cent in many cases.

One such example is Curacao’s 57-acre Harbour Duty Free Zone, the largest in the Caribbean, attracting visitors as well as retailers and other bulk purchasers who visit the fenced-in facility to find bargains.

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