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BIR to penalise VAT culprits

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) will deal with culprits charging more than the 12.5 Value Added Tax rate where necessary. Fast food establishments should also be using the 12.5 per cent VAT rate, Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie has said.

He spoke about the issue at yesterday’s post-Cabinet media conference at the Office of the Prime Minister, St Clair.

On the issue concerning implementation of the new 12.5 per cent VAT rate, which became effective last Monday, Cuffie said the Trade Minister had established a hotline (800-4277) for consumers to call in concerns.

Cuffie said the Trade Minister said she had gotten calls and the hotline was being used. “She also said people have been calling in from supermarkets,” he added.

The Trade Minister also announced that a team of ten inspectors from the Consumer Affairs Division would be on patrol to monitor merchants and other suppliers to ensure proper compliance with the new VAT rate.

Asked what sanctions or measures could be taken in instances where people were charging more than the 12.5 per cent rate on items which do not have this, Cuffie said there were measures the BIR could take to treat with that situation.” The situation could be dealt with through the VAT office,” he said.

Asked about restaurant and fast food outlets in particular which may be overcharging VAT, he said there was VAT on certain types of rice, flour and other items on the Finance Ministry had provided “but not on fast foods, so all fast food outlets should have changed their rates of VAT and dropped it from 15 per cent to 12.5 per cent.”

On uncertainty by booksellers who have also complained about specifics on the VAT issue, Finance Minister Colm Imbert has said he would publish a list of the items which carried VAT and those without VAT in a pullout in the newspaper this weekend to clarify the situation.

PM for Caricom meeting in Belize

Prime Minister Keith Rowley will make a presentation on crime when he attends his first Caricom meeting—the  27th Intersessional conference—over February 16 to 17 in Belize.

Communication Minister Maxie Cuffie, announcing this yesterday, said Rowley would leave February 15. 

He will be accompanied to the meeting by a 12-member delegation, including the Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs and Minister in the Ministry of National Security Dennis Moses. Other members of the delegation are largely officials of the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Cuffie was unable to say if Finance Minister Colm Imbert would again act as Prime Minister as happened when Rowley was overseas recently. (GA)