By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Super Value’s owner yesterday said the Government's 'inclusive' Value-Added Tax (VAT) pricing system would present " much bigger problems" for retailers, arguing that it would be "impossible" for his company to reprice 35,000 items overnight on New Year’s Eve.
Rupert Roberts told Tribune Business it would be better if Bahamian retailers could simply leave their shelves the way they were and display the VAT separately on the label sticker.
"The merchant’s choice is not inclusive; the merchants’ choice is to do what they do in the US,” he told Tribune Business. “If we are going to collect taxes for the Government, it's better for the Government to work with us and do it our way.
“They don't do it inclusive in the US or in Canada. It presents much bigger problems to do it inclusive and get the pricing inclusive on the shelf, and every time a shipment comes in we price it inclusive. Then they would have to suspend rice control temporarily for us to get our shelves in order and get the inclusive prices on the shelves.”
Mr Roberts added: "That doesn't mean that we can sell above the price control items, but they do have to change price control if we are going to include the VAT, otherwise we have two laws in conflict with each other. Something has to be worked out and changed there.
"It would be better to leave our shelves the way they are and leave our cash registers the way they our, and put the VAT on the tape. The cost of living would be much lower doing it that way. Government is talking about doing it the expensive way.”
Gavin Watchorn, AML Foods’ president and chief executive, recently added his voice to those suggesting that the switch to VAT ‘inclusive’ pricing was “not necessary”, and that the Government was failing to heed the retail sector’s concerns over this.
Pointing out that AML’s Solomon’s SuperCentre format carried 30,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) alone, Mr Watchorn gave an insight into why it was impossible for major retailers to re-price all their inventory for VAT overnight on New Year’s Eve.
Assuming that there were 250 items per SKU, which Mr Watchorn admitted was a low amount, this would require 7.5 million items to be re-priced overnight at just one store. And, spread across AML’s seven different stores, this translated into 52.5 million items that needed to be re-priced to comply with the Government’s demand for ‘VAT inclusive’ pricing.
The seven stores are spread across AML’s Solomon’s SuperCentre, Cost Right and Solomon’s Fresh Market formats, and Mr Watchorn said it would be far simpler and less costly for retailers to show the VAT paid on the customer’s receipt.
The Government’s original VAT legislation, released in November 2013, had opted for ‘exclusive pricing’ where the product price and amount of due tax were shown separately on the label sticker. It, however, reversed this position in the legislation that passed through the House of Assembly.
"The Government has to work with us on that. We can't reprice 35,000 items between December 31 and January 1. That's impossible, and that's where government has to work with us and we have to work out something," said Mr Roberts yesterday.