EXPECT to pay less for ham and turkey this Christmas as a result of the removal of the Value Added Tax (VAT) from those items.
This according to president of the Supermarkets' Association of Trinidad and Tobago Vernon Persad, who said the prices of all processed meats would be reduced, including beef ham, soya ham and turkey ham.
On Monday, Minister of Finance Larry Howai announced during his budget presentation, that there would be a removal of VAT on all food items except luxury items and alcoholic beverages.
Persad said yesterday, "You would pay about $300 for two hams and that includes 15 per cent VAT. On every $100 you spend, you would save just under $13 on a ham so you are talking about $25 to $37 that you could save on your shopping for ham this Christmas. That could go to buying other things in the grocery. You could buy all your biscuits and so on with that so you see when you put things into context it makes sense."
He said the association made the recommendation to Howai to have the VAT removed and he was pleased that the Government listened to the business community.
Persad said customers will benefit from the removal of VAT.
He said, "It (removal of VAT) must be a good move. The man who has a limited income, he lives off $500 or $700 for the week. Any savings that he gets makes him happy so it must be a good thing."
Middle-income owners would also benefit because most of the processed food and meats including tea and items for vegetarians would be cheaper.
Persad said VAT-registered businesses would not be affected negatively because they get refunds, but smaller businesses who were not VAT registered would be affected because VAT "forms part of their cost".
Persad said the budget had "commendable initiatives".
He said, "The time has come now for action to take place. We have spoken policy for the past two years and it is time that we get action. I am happy to see a policy decision has been put in place in terms of where the Minister said the food import bill of $4 billion, they will look at getting it reduced by half by the year 2015, so at least it sets a target and with a target should come an action plan."
Persad was pleased with the arrangement with Guyana to establish a Food Security Facility, which was a recommendation of the association.
Howai said during the budget presentation, "The Facility would commit both governments to expanding agricultural production in Guyana through the establishment of several large agricultural estates in Guyana."
Persad said that arrangement "could bring an availability of food which is much needed right now in order for us to have sustainability and security".