Monday, Dec 9, 2019
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Chamber: Rush to avoid VAT hike on products unexpected

Chief executive officer of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) Edison Sumner said the rush to purchase items before the introduction of the 12 percent value-added tax (VAT) yesterday was largely unexpected. He said there could be some chaos today as stores implement the tax increase.

Sumner said while the government has given an extension to some businesses in order to give them time to reprice items on their shelves, a lot of businesses are still looking for certain guidelines from government to help them through the transition period.

“I made a statement earlier that there might have been some organized chaos on the business side,” he said. “It seemed to be on the consumer side.”

According to him, because the VAT increase came on a Sunday, the real impact would be felt today.

He said some businesses will be busy filing VAT returns at the same time they are busy implementing a VAT increase at their registers.

“Some of the rules are not fully articulated as yet,” Sumner said. “We’re hoping to see a release on that by today or tomorrow.”

Sumner said the consumer reaction this weekend was unexpected. He said some sort of emotional response to the VAT increase was expected from consumers, but not the “run on the stores” that occurred.

“It wasn’t quite the reaction we expected, but not unreasonable. Now we’ll see how things settle in today.

“Given that the increase would have come over the weekend, people were trying to grab some of the products before the increase kicks in. But some of the products they were grabbing were breadbasket items.”

Those breadbasket items, he said, would not be increased in any event, and will become VAT exempt beginning August 1.

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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