Among other business completed on Tuesday, the House of Assembly signed off on government’s plan to extend an import-duty reduction by three months, and it green-lighted regulations that give more teeth to the International Tax Authority.
The first decision gives the HOA’s stamp of approval to an order Gazetted on July 22 under the Customs Management and Duties Act 2010.
The order extends temporary import-duty reductions that leaders said were designed to help residents struggling with rising prices since the start of the war in Ukraine.
One set of cuts — which reduced customs duties above five percent to five percent — was imposed on April 15 for a period of three months, and it has now been extended three more months effective July 15.
Also extended by three months were reductions of import duty from 22 cents to 11 cents on diesel and from 32 cents to 16 cents on gasoline, and reductions from 18 cents to 9 cents per 100 pounds of cement and $1.20 to 60 cents for 100 pounds of propane.
“This is an extension of an initiative that started just three months ago,” Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley explained Tuesday in the HOA. “Our business community has had a hard time with the hurricanes and the pandemic, and with inflation. This initiative would’ve assisted our business community.”
Passing on savings
Dr. Wheatley also promised that his government will work to ensure that the tax cuts are passed on to consumers. To that end, he said, the Consumer Affairs Unit of the Trade Department will be “activated,” and the government will hold meetings with various public agencies.
He also said the Central Statistics Office monitors inflation rates every week and suggested that its reports be made public more often.
“We’ll look at a specific basket of goods we’ll want to provide relief for, and we’ll make sure those savings are passed on,” Dr. Wheatley added.
Government backbencher Vincent Wheatley (R-D9) spoke in support of the tax cut, saying that he “hears the cries of the people every single day.”
Deputy Speaker Neville Smith (R-at large) and opposition member Carvin Malone (R-at large) stressed the importance of measures designed to ensure that savings benefit customers as well as business owners.
“This is something we need to keep our eyes on,” Mr. Smith said. “We need to have reports come in on how it’s working.”
Minister for Trade and Economic Development Shereen Flax-Charles (R-at large) said she stands in support of the resolution, which ultimately passed.
Moving on, the HOA approved new regulations for the ITA that Dr. Wheatley said will enable the agency to impose certain administrative penalties without going through the courts.
The move, Dr. Wheatley said, is designed in part to help make the financial sector’s regulatory regime more “efficient and effective.”
He added that people will still have the right to appeal the administrative penalties through the courts.
The motion approving the regulations — which were Gazetted on Aug. 4 — passed unanimously without debate.
Also on Tuesday, the House passed a resolution to cut remittance taxes from seven percent to 3.5 percent and debated the Water and Sewerage Authority Act, 2022.
Dr. Wheatley also introduced the Jury Act 2022.