Government Holds Consultation to Discuss Cost of Living Issues

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew addressing the attendees at the consultation meeting

Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis (Press Secretary, PMO)- The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, within the context of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas established in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) including the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), has taken the necessary steps to address the applicable Common External Tariff (CET) on a list of goods that comprised the Family Shopping List.

The CET is a single tariff rate agreed to by all members of the CARICOM on imports of a product from outside the CARICOM region.

(L-R) Sean Lawrence, Director of Trade; Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Rt. Hon. Dr Denzil Douglas

An invitation was extended to various business owners to attend a consultation on Wednesday 12th July 2023 at the St. Kitts and Nevis Customs and Excise Department’s Conference Room.

Business owners and stakeholders at the Government consultation meeting

The overall objective of the consultation was for stakeholders, to discuss measures that will ensure Saint Kitts and Nevis realigns itself with the provisions of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, while still establishing parameters to assist with the reduction of food prices within the Federation.

Business owners and stakeholders at the Government consultation meeting

Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Dr Terrance Drew; Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, the Rt. Honourable Dr Denzil Douglas; and Ambassador to CARICOM, His Excellency Larry Vaughan, met this morning with representatives of major food suppliers and traders in Saint Kitts and Nevis in an effort to find solutions to reduce the cost of food in the supermarkets.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew addressing the attendees at the consultation meeting

Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew in his address to the attendees spoke of the rising cost of food which is driven by external forces, and the Government’s resolve in its efforts to find the right solutions that will bring relief to the people.

“One of the main concerns that I have, and the Government has, is the increased cost of food. We all have to work together to manage what is affecting the cost because that cost is affecting all of us. Everyone here is affected by it, our families are affected by it, our communities are affected by it. So in essence, what I have asked Consumer Affairs to do is work along with you to see what we need to do in order to control these prices”, said Dr. Drew.

He further added “We understand that there are factors outside of the Federation that affect the price of food. Perhaps the producers may have raised their prices and so you the suppliers now have to raise your prices, which affects the consumers here in Saint Kitts and Nevis. So I am asking that we deliberate on that and see what policies can be implemented to affect positively the cost of goods”.

The Prime Minister stated that it is critical for the Family Shopping List to be closely looked at to ensure that the cost of these essential items is more affordable.

To date, in an effort to address the cost of living issues with the Federation, the Government has lowered corporate income tax from 33% to 25% and unincorporated business tax from 4% to 2% until December 31st, 2023. Additionally, freight charges for 20-foot and 40-foot, dry food and cold storage containers, have been capped at the 2019, pre-COVID rates.

The Government has also provided financial ease by granting concessions on school supplies for the upcoming school term. This measure runs until the end of September 2023.

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