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Ready for VAT-free Monday

Ready for VAT-free Monday
Swan Street, Bridgetown (FILE)

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President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Anthony Branker, says members in the retail sector are working around the clock ahead of Monday’s VAT free shopping day.

In a statement issued on Sunday night via the Barbados Government Information Service, Branker said this was in spite of the short turnaround time for the announcement which was made by Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, during a virtual media conference on Saturday.

“The members of the retail sector have been diligently using every resource possible, both local and international, to make the necessary updates to their IT systems so that consumers can have a satisfying Vat Free Day,” he said.

In an interview with the Sunday Sun, Branker said the announcement came as a surprise to them because there was no consultation on the matter and it was not as practical as some might think.

“I’m shocked that this VAT-free holiday would come without any notice or any type of consultation to understand how practical it is for businesses,” Branker said.

“Not that I don’t appreciate the effort to give relief to the ordinary Barbadian, but certainly, as partners of the Government we would expect that at the very least, there would have been some consultation to understand how practical it is.”

Meanwhile, Straughn said all systems were in place at the Barbados Revenue Authority “to administer the VAT filings associated with the VAT-free Day”.

“We have had dialogue with stakeholders and issued a Guidance Note which outlines the requirements for retailers in relation to this initiative, and provides a description of goods that will ascribe a VAT rate of zero per cent, and indicates the filing and reporting obligations for companies and businesses that may be affected by the temporary change,” he said.

Recognising that such a tax relief initiative requires a short lead up time to avoid significant shifts in spending patterns or price changes, the Minister highlighted that “in many cases we are working with the retailers to allow them to facilitate this important initiative which will benefit consumers and businesses alike. Some retailers have noted that they will have to use a discount to achieve the zero rating for the day and this will be accommodated. We look forward to the success of this initiative, and thank all retailers for their hard work in making the VAT Free Day a reality for consumers”.

In the wake of the announcement, some stores used their social media sites to indicate they were offering more than VAT off, with one going at 20 per cent and another enticing customers with an additional 10 per cent. (BRA)