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Government looking at ‘high’ Customs duties

Government looking at ‘high’ Customs duties
Minister in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Ryan Straughn (GP)

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Barbadians overseas who are planning to send items to loved ones this Christmas could be given a financial ease by Government.

Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn said the Mia Mottley Administration was examining how it could address the issue as the Barbados economy faced “an increase in expenditure” having to responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, ashfall, and rehousing people affected by Hurricane Elsa.

He was responding to a question posed during last night’s Prime Ministerial Global Town Hall Meeting for Barbadians Living in the Diaspora held via Zoom and YouTube. The query related to the costs associated with clearing items at the Customs Department, the “high percentages in goods” and why there was not a revision “for at least a few months” to facilitate those in the diaspora sending items to assist the needy.

The Minister, who said that some $600 million in revenue was lost throughout the process, noted they were “working to get the economy jumpstarted by being able to relax some of the restrictions”.

“We have been looking at ways to see how we could address not just what the duties may be, but we also have to recognise that globally, the costs of items have increased, the costs of raw materials have increased, the costs of shipping equally has increased, and therefore we have been looking to see how we can adjust on Government’s side, notwithstanding the requirement to do more spending to provide social support, but we have been monitoring it to ensure that we can deliver that,” Straughn explained.

“It is not an easy exercise because as we have been trying to manage the public health side of the pandemic which requires more resources every time there are surges with respect to responding to that. It does put certainly a strain on Government’s revenue in order to continue to provide the range of services which we have been able to do throughout of this crisis. It is a balancing act.”

The Minister said that cash transfers were done through the Welfare Department and the Household Mitigation Unit in the Prime Minister’s Office to provide support for affected families.

“Any donations that come through the various charities, we’ve been working with them to be able to help provide some relief to persons, but in the situation we are in, we’re constantly monitoring to ensure that we do not compromise our ability to provide a range of services, but we have been reviewing it and will continue to do so,” said Straughn.

He joined Prime Minister Mottley, Attorney General Dale Marshall, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr Jerome Walcott; Minister of Home Affairs, Information and Public Affairs Wilfred Abrahams, Minister of Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Kerrie Symmonds, Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde; the Comptroller of Customs Owen Holder, and Chief Immigration Officer Wayne Marshall to field questions during the event hosted by Julian Rogers. (GBM)