On 30 June the duty free concession that government offered persons in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria will officially come to an end and while some persons were unable to benefit from the duty exemption, it was announced that many abused the provision.
The point of abuse of the duty exemption was made by Opposition Member, and Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser during the 27 April budget debate. He told his colleagues that while many who are in need of the tax break would not be able to benefit directly or indirectly from it, others went shopping for things they never had, and to recoup for loss they never suffered.
While speaking first for the persons who were not able to use the relief measure, Hon. Fraser told the Premier that the deadline and cutoff date was not a good idea: “I know you did some form of extension to it once they can prove they have purchased the items before the end of March; and if they did so, so, and so happens. That’s not good enough Premier,” the Third District Representative said.
“Premier if my vehicle was damaged by the hurricanes, and I can prove that beyond a shadow of a doubt I should be able to get that exemption; even if I didn’t make a purchase before the end of March…If my house was damaged by hurricanes beyond a shadow of a doubt I should be able to get that exemption. We have to make provisions that accommodate such things,” Hon. Fraser added.
A Road Town property owner told The Island Sun that banks are not helping, “the opposite” he emphasized, and “it will take me years of hard work to fix my property, that is if it does not get wrecked by another hurricane”.
The Opposition Member mentioned that the exemption was abused by a few individuals. “Some people went out and they capitalized on this exemption that you have given to buy things that they never had. They bought new cars – they never had a car, their car wasn’t damaged in the hurricane. People went out they bought building materials to build houses that were never damaged and they got that exemption,” he said.
Hon. Fraser further noted that some who really needed the break were unable to benefit before the deadline ran out. “The people who got damaged, the people it was intended for as long as they can prove that this was the case, they have evidence, then Premier they should be accommodated. Of course the people can’t get their insurance money. Some people have money, but they couldn’t find their bank book or their card, some people lost their credit card; so we have to make special accommodation for people.”
“I would hate to know people who really needed the break and they end up being penalized because they didn’t have the wherewithal to get this. Premier I really want you to look into this,” Hon. Fraser said.