Nation e-Edition

Owen: Not fair!

Owen: Not fair! Former Prime Minister Owen Arthur. (FP)

By Ricky Jordan | Sun, December 30, 2012 - 12:09 AM

Warehouse chain Cost-U-Less is in line for major concessions when it opens in Barbados in the New Year.

But while Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler sees nothing unusual about the concessions, Opposition Leader Owen Arthur is calling them “extraordinary and outrageous” and likely to give the store an unfair advantage over similar businesses in the distributive retail sector.

Showing an April 13, 2011 letter from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs which he said he obtained Friday, Arthur said the document, which was copied to the Comptroller of Customs and Commissioner of Inland Revenue among others, listed exemptions from import duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) on the importation of fittings, furniture, fixtures, equipment, construction material and supplies “for use exclusively in connection with the construction, development, sale and operation of the project”.

It also listed import duty and VAT exemption on personal and household effects and vehicles of specialist expatriate staff, as well as exemption for 15 years from the payment of withholding tax on dividends and interest to shareholders, financial institutions and individuals making loans to the company.

Please read the full story in today’s SUNDAY SUN, or in the eNATION edition.

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Posted by Carl Harper 1 year, 3 months ago
While Bajan consumers can do with any relief from the high prices that currently exist, competing companies to Cost-U-Less should be outraged over this apparent discriminatory policy by the government.

Just a few weeks ago Government rejected a proposal by the BCCI for an island-wide tax-free day, over a duty-free day that would have applied only to a few businesses. This was initially viewed as the Treasury needing every tax dollar to strengthen the country's dire fiscal position. Now we have to wonder if Government's refusal of the tax-free day had anything to do with the opening of Cost-U-Less.

Cost-U-Less does not have any better sourcing knowledge for its products than any other similar company such as PriceSmart, therefore prices in the local market can only be significantly lower if Government offers the company unusual concessions.

While the late prime minister, David Thompson, was speaking of "lower prices" as it relates to Cost-U-Less, Dan McConnell, vice-president of real estate and store development was emphasizing "value for money." And therein lies the difference.

Value for money does not necessarily mean cheap prices. Cheap prices are usually associated with lower quality products, whereas "value for money" is connected with the price a customer pays for a product being equaled to its perceived value. Hence the difference in price between a Suzuki and Mercedes.

Bulk shopping tends to more benefit persons with large disposable incomes and businesses that can afford to buy bigger sizes and quantities, and not those looking to "stretch their dollar."

While Cost-U-Less will be a welcomed addition to the Barbados business landscape for direct foreign investment and employment opportunities, concessions offered to them by Government should not be extraordinary, to the disadvantage of similar businesses or other productive sectors.

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Posted by Payel Garcia 1 year, 3 months ago
Sinckler made a good decision, we need the competition to drive down prices in Barbados. The BLP is not even in power yet and I am disappointed every time Owen opens his mouth.

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Posted by J. Payne 1 year, 3 months ago
HENCE why Freedom of Information Act should be passed and ANYTIME a private company or individual is given any such tax exemptions it should have to be posted in the Official (Government) Gazette (and the Gazette should have an email list and website that anybody can subscribe to. That is ofcourse if Barbados was for transparency. I guess the best thing to do would be to write to the OAS and tell them that the U.S. and Canada should place pressure on small countries to do that in the next anti-corruption bill to be put out by the OAS.

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