Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 08, 2016 (SKNIS): The Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CIC) has been urged to work with its members to ensure that the removal of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from food, medicines and funeral expenses is passed on to consumers.
The call was made on Wednesday (September 07) by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, on Wednesday, during an appearance on Winn FM’s “Voices” radio programme.
He said the CIC must ensure “that there is no gouging of customers that when Government gives certain relief in terms of taxes that it (the Chamber) encourages its membership to do the right thing and ensure the pass through of VAT.”
The 17 percent VAT was removed from the three areas in April 2015. While some complaints have been received by the Department of Consumer Affairs about high prices, particularly for some food products, Prime Minister Harris said the effects of the removal of VAT can still be felt.
“I look at the price of saltfish whenever I go in the supermarket and recall what it used to be before VAT and I could see significant difference, because up to Saturday I bought some,” he said, noting that the price of chicken is also cheaper when compared to the period just before the removal of VAT. “… So I know there are benefits that have come to the ordinary people. I know that also because when I go to the dispensary. I see that there is no VAT and I know what medication used to be like.”
Several officers at the Department of Consumer Affairs are charged with the regular monitoring of prices at shops and supermarkets, as part of their duties to ensure that consumers are not subject to unscrupulous practices by some businesses. Dr. Harris promised listeners of the show that a review will be done to see what improvements may be necessary to further enhance consumer protection in this regard.