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'Over 80%' Of Food Products Vat-Free

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

The Government yesterday urged consumers to be "patient" as they familiarise themselves with the VAT-free breadbasket, with the industry suggesting "80 percent" of products fall into this category.

The Ministry of Finance, in a statement yesterday, said the Retail Grocers Association and the Manufacturers' Agents and Wholesalers Association had worked with it to facilitate the transition.

"This was critical to minimise any inconvenience to Bahamian consumers, and to ensure businesses are in compliance with the new laws and regulations," the Ministry said. "It is important to note the VAT-Free breadbasket is not limited to the price control list.

"The VAT regulations, which are administered by the Department of Inland Revenue, are directly tied to the classification of goods under the Bahamas Customs tariff headings. This allows for a broad range of breadbasket goods to be included in the VAT-Free list. Unlike price control, which only regulates a portion of breadbasket items, most types and variations under the breadbasket are VAT-Free with only a few exceptions, including prepared foods."

K Peter Turnquest, deputy prime minister, said: "The VAT-Free breadbasket is going to make grocery shopping a lot less expensive. Literally thousands of every day items are now VAT-Free.

"This is not something I need to promise consumers. This is something Bahamians will see for themselves when they look at their grocery bills and compare the difference. Before, Bahamians had to pay 7.5 percent on everything purchased in the food store. Now, Bahamians will pay zero VAT on most of their items."

Rupert Roberts, Super Value's president, said while grocery stores will end up collecting less VAT for the Government, those savings are going to Bahamians in the form of lower prices. "The list of VAT-free items is actually very extensive, and I think people will not realise the magnitude of the savings until they see how many VAT-free items are on their receipts," he said.

"In the case of Super Value, 8,000 of the items in our inventory are now VAT-free. That is around 80 percent of the store the Government is giving away in VAT. For some of the smaller convenience stores, nearly 100 percent of their items may very well be VAT-free. This means huge savings for consumers that will bring down the cost of living on a major weekly expense."

Philip Beneby, Retail Grocers Association (RGA) president, said: "It took a lot of effort to implement all of the changes, and we appreciate the collaboration with the Ministry of Finance over the past few weeks. Having an open line of communication helped to answer some of the important questions our members had.

"There are still a few kinks to work out, which are understandable, and we still have to make sure all of the businesses in every island have the right information. However, we feel confident that by and large the transition will continue to be smooth, and we also ask for the patience of consumers. All of our members and their staff have been working tremendously hard to re-price tens of thousands of items. The fact that most of them were ready on August 1 is commendable."

The Ministry of Finance said all forms of raw rice are now VAT-free, including white rice, brown rice and other forms of raw milled rice. All cooking oils are VAT-free, including corn oil, vegetable oil, olive oil and other cooking others.

All forms of flour are now VAT-free, including white flour, wheat flour, spelt flour or cassava flour. Most forms of cheese are now VAT free, including sliced cheese for sandwiches, block cheese for macaroni, or shredded cheese for making cheese and grits.

Also of note, in the cheese category, cream cheese and liquid cheese are not VAT-free. In the margarine category, liquid margarine is not VAT-free. Seasoned rice is not VAT-free. The exceptions exist based on how the international tariff codes are structured. Diary milk is VAT-free, but plant-based milks are not. Bathing soap, medicated soap and disinfectant soap are VAT-free but only in solid form. Liquid soaps, bath wash, disinfectant solutions, hand soap and dishwashing liquid are not VAT-free.

"Although there are some exceptions, there are still thousands of breadbasket items that are now VAT-free. By estimates of the Retail Grocers Association, the VAT-free breadbasket list covers over 80 per cent of the items in the store," the Ministry of Finance said.

Comments

ohdrap4 11 months, 3 weeks ago

where can i download a complete list, including customs headings?

I suspect that price control will go away next year.

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Junkan00 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I also would like to be able to download a list of the items that are now VAT free. Here in Exuma it appears to me that everything in store has simply gone up since the 1st July!

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DDK 11 months, 3 weeks ago

CLEAR AS MUD!!!! So, what items ARE price controlled? "Most forms of cheese are now VAT free" Brie, Feta, Gorgonzola? Suspect Mr. Roberts' 8000 items include different sizes of the same item which could lower that number substantially, Nothing like a bit of free advertising though (misleading or not)!

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ohdrap4 11 months, 3 weeks ago

the 1973 price control act is still in force!!! even sugar is still price controlled, just not VAT free.

remember the price control act just covers white flour, the vat zerorated includes several flours. At 15.00 per pound, i cannot buy coconut flour whether it is vat free or price controlled.

i have now combed through 2 of my receipts to see what is VAT free, the vat free items are not identified. just the vat free and taxable totals.

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ThisIsOurs 11 months, 3 weeks ago

If they take the VAT off my favorite apple product today, it will cost me 1.69. On May 1 that same apple cost me .99c. Going VAT free has raised the price 70%

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ohdrap4 11 months, 3 weeks ago

your apple, other fruits and fresh meat will never be zero rated, no perishables ever will, as they cost money to keep.

at lest they could have included some dry and canned beans for more nutrition.

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ThisIsOurs 11 months, 3 weeks ago

You missed my bigger point. They're making a fuss about VAT off these items. Their "plan" caused the prices of everything to go up overnight.

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ThisIsOurs 11 months, 3 weeks ago

And I'm talking about the rise in the base price before VAT is included. My apply went up to 1.69 PRE-VAT. Now I'm getting less fiber lol.

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ohdrap4 11 months, 3 weeks ago

back in 2014, i used to buy president brand camembert cheese, 10 oz, i think, for about 12 dollars. it is like 21 dollars now, same size. they made sure cream cheese is not vat free.

reduce the fruit, it has too much fructose and makes you fat.

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ThisIsOurs 11 months, 3 weeks ago

It does not make you fat. If you gobble them down sure like everything else it's "sugar". If you drink smoothies filled with five times as much fruit as you could possibly eat in a day sure... You eat it early. You eat two hours apart. You eat no more than a handful. And you exercise. That price difference in cheese happened over two years, this happened within one month, as soon as the budget was read, those prices started inching up.

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ThisIsOurs 11 months, 3 weeks ago

You know God is the ultimate designer. I apologize to everyone who doesn't believe in God. Here goes...he gave us two measuring cups attached to our body, you have them ready all the time. And everyone's cup measure is curated to their own body needs. Isn't that amazing? Then someone had the genius idea to create a wheel and that was the end of moderation.

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birdiestrachan 11 months, 3 weeks ago

In my view the FNM Government and the merchants are in collusion against the poor The rich will get richer and the poor who cares?

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DDK 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Starting to look that way..........

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gbgal 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Please explain how the Vat-free products are handled at the cashier. You get one receipt for all your items and the Vat is added at the end. How can I check on my Vat-free charges? Beats me! Thanks

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ohdrap4 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I had to use a calculator

I have two receipts so far.

the first one says: SUBTOTAL: 53.19 TAXABLE AT 12%: 44.52 TAXABLE AT 0% : 8.57

Next to the VAT FREE , there is the symbols {*} for each item Next to the VATABLE , there is the symbols {T} for each item

this is from a major foodstore.

The other receipt is from a smaller food store operator, and not detailed, so the burden was on me to pickout which items were VAT FREE. The bill was correct and the store does use POS, so maybe the system will be adjusted soon. I did not say anything because the food store owner is a nice man and I am sure he would answer if i asked.

But definitely, it will be a burden on the consumer if the store is allowed to continue this practice.

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proudloudandfnm 11 months, 3 weeks ago

So what? 5 years ago 100% of groceries were VAT free and they were still too damned expensive.

ELIMINATE DUTY!

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