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...Customs still in the dark

By Camille Bethel camille.bethel@trinidadexpress.com

The Customs and Excise Division is still in the dark as to which imported food items will be exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT) come November 15.

November 15 is the deadline for the removal of VAT for thousands of imported food items.

On Wednesday, former president of the Food Distributors Association (FDA), Balliram Maharaj expressed concern over the looming deadline for the removal of VAT from food items and questioned who would absorb the VAT that he would pay on items imported before the VAT removal deadline, and sold afterward.

Customs and Excise Division communications specialist Alicia Charles yesterday told the Express that Customs had not yet received any legislation guiding the body as to what would be exempted.

"The position of the Customs and Excise Division is that in order to apply the VAT exemption legislation is required and we will be implementing the VAT exemption as soon as that legislation is in place," she said.

She said Customs needed to have the exact list of items to be exempted in order to do so.

Checks with Parliamentary sources revealed that legislation regarding the VAT exemption was yet to be tabled.

"The short answer is no. I was hearing from many media houses that is what people thought we were to do yesterday but that has not happened. No such legislation has passed through the House. It has not come before Parliament as yet," a source said.

The source said they were awaiting information from the Cabinet as to what the agenda for the legislation was but it had not happened yet.

On Wednesday, Maharaj recommended that the deadline for the actual removal of the VAT be pushed back to December 1, to give Customs the necessary time to remove the VAT.

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