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Govt wants mechanism ensuring consumers benefit from duty concessions

Foulkes: We want to do it in conjunction with the private sector
Dion Foulkes.

The government plans to introduce a mechanism that ensures consumers in The Bahamas benefit from duty reductions on certain goods, according to Minister of Labor Dion Foulkes.

In June, the government announced that it would reduce or eliminate duty on selected goods. Speaking with Guardian Business yesterday, Foulkes said that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has asked the Ministry of Labour to look at a mechanism from a “scientific point of view” that ensures consumers benefit from a reduction in import taxes.

Foulkes said such a mechanism has yet to be put in place, but assured that progress is being made.

“Unfortunately, we do not have that mechanism in place. The government is working on putting it in place. We were in discussions last week with some of the stakeholders because we want to do it in conjunction with the private sector,” he said.

He pointed out that one of the mandates of the Consumer Protection Commission and the Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) is to develop some type of mechanism or regulation to ensure that where customs or other duty concessions are granted, they are actually passed on to the consumer.

During the 2017/2018 budget presentation in June, Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest revealed the government was eliminating customs duties on products including X-ray machines and parts; breathing apparatus and masks; ophthalmic instruments and appliances; blood grouping reagents; nutritional preparations for tube feeding; dental cements and fillings and bone reconstruction cements; medical gel; sterile tissue adhesives; and parts for carriages for disabled persons.

In addition, the government would be eliminating or reducing import duties on certain food and beverage products including milk, yogurt, ice cream, bread, cakes, pastries, chips, salmon fillets, shrimp and prawns, pastas and pizza sauce, fruit drinks, canned or preserved vegetables, jams, fruit jellies and marmalades and fruit or nut purees; mixtures of fruits and nuts, and soy sauce.

Government would also be eliminating or reducing import duties on a number of personal care products and certain household items, exercise and gym equipment and certain building materials.

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