Supermarket operators are getting anxious about when they will receive the official list from the Government on which imported food items will now attract value added tax (VAT) from January.
The Supermarket Association said yesterday no word has come from the Finance Ministry with regard to the list of food items on which 12.5 per VAT will be implemented from January 1.
On October 5, Finance Minister Colm Imbert, during his fiscal 2020/2021 budget presentation in Parliament, announced that VAT will be placed on selected imported items like lobster and strawberries, and a list will be published for suppliers to follow.
During the sitting of Parliament last month, Imbert implored the population to curb their taste for imported luxury foods, which he said amounted to “hundreds of millions of dollars” being exhausted in foreign exchange.
“When you look at the food import bill, we are importing billions and billions of dollars in food every year,” Imbert said then.
No ‘huge’ price increase
Supermarket Association president Rajiv Diptee told the Express he has not received the official list and hopes to get it in a timely manner, as supermarkets and suppliers will have to put things in place to introduce new pricing on imported items.
“We are in November and no one has reached out from the Ministry of Finance, and January 1, 2021, is quickly approaching.”
Diptee questioned why apples and grapes fell into this category, as there were many other imported items that could have fallen in the VAT bracket.
“However, I want to make it clear to customers that when the taxes are added to the items such as lobster, escargot and strawberries, there would not be a huge increase on these purchases,” he said.
Finance Minister Colm Imbert did not immediately respond to messages left on WhatsApp for comment yesterday.
An official from the Finance Ministry said the list was still being compiled, and should be published by the end of the month.