Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi yesterday clarified statements that the $12 billion in uncollected Value Added Tax (VAT) which he spoke about was taken out of context by the media.
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Food distributors hit by US$ shortage
Another business group has expressed concern about the challenges being experienced to obtain US currency. The Food Distributors Association (FDA) said it is an embarrassment when its members cannot pay foreign suppliers. “Suppliers abroad are naturally concerned and are beginning to express deep concern as we become more of a credit risk. For obvious reasons, this has the potential to affect the cost of products negatively, as well as to impede the consistent supply of goods, which in turn can reflect in the prices consumers pay for goods and services,” Kent Sheppard, FDA chairman, told the T&T Guardian.
Earlier this week, the T&T Manufacturers’ Association, Chaguanas Chamber of Commerce, American Chamber and the Supermarkets’ Association of T&T, all expressed concern about the short supply of US currency and called for an intervention. In a statement on Thursday, Sheppard said he was not satisfied with the actions taken by the Central Bank so far. “Although there have been several statements on the issue since the beginning of the year stating that the situation should improve, the fact is the situation seems to be worse today than it was then,” he said.
Describing the quantities issued by the banks as “disheartening”, Sheppard said some of his membership “are in breach of their agreed credit terms”. He warned that the situation could negatively affect long established credit terms and relationships and “may have an impact on the cost of goods”. Sheppard said in March some FDA members were offered as little as US$500 which cannot cover the large sums they owe to suppliers. “We are also very mindful that any solution that involves the further slide or devaluation of the T&T dollar to the US dollar will very likely have impact on consumer prices. The situation needs to be remedied quickly,” he said.