The duty free measure implemented as a post-Irma relief and recently reinstituted is reportedly not delivering the expected ease to the general public as it was intended to do.
The matter of residents being unable to benefit from the import duty ease was mentioned by Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly and Fifth District Representative, Hon. Delores Christopher during a recent sitting of the House of Assembly.
Hon. Christopher told the House that at present residents are in dire need of the post-Irma fiscal relief but it is not materializing in the way it should: “People here are facing some difficult times Madame Speaker …Some people don’t even have a bed, some people using those blow up type beds for a mattress.”
“Madame Speaker the government made a good effort saying that you would be able to import goods duty free, but we were not the only country that got damaged and so when you look you couldn’t even get in some of the stuff. You still can’t get in some of the stuff Madame Speaker,” Hon. Christopher said.
The Fifth District Representative further explained that the shipping companies and even the port officials are making the process difficult: “Then when you do get it out from your supplier they can’t get it shipped, because the shippers ain’t bringing it…those who transport the goods. You can’t get it here and then when you do get it here you can’t get it off the dock. So some people going through a lot,” the Deputy Speaker pointed out.
Following hurricane Irma government approved a duty-free list that includes vehicles, certain household items to enable residents and businesses to import the items they needed. The list featured articles such as food and water; building material; electrical fixtures and materials; plumbing fixtures and materials; power generators, household furniture, furnishings and appliances; pharmaceuticals and cleaning supplies. The import duty was further extended into this year.
In explaining why the ease of duty was necessary the Premier pointed out during a ZBVI program on November 19 that several reasons prompted government to offer this measure.
“There were several reasons why people were suggesting that we renew it; for example, because of the delay in getting the payment from insurance companies it will take a little longer for them to order the materials. In fact, some people have not been paid as yet, because it’s a lot of work for the insurance companies and so they will not be able to receive their supplies at the end of the year. So these are factors that we have to take into consideration,” Premier Smith stated.