Executive director of the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association (BMA) Bobbi McKay is optimistic that the fight to get Value Added Tax (VAT) and duties placed on imported burgers, and to get the tariffs increased on some imported poultry products could be over before the end of this year.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY McKay said the BMA was working “quietly” to resolve the issues. She said while the efforts were “frustrating”, they seemed to be heading in the right direction.
Over the past year, industry players have been calling on the Government to return the tariff on some imported, semi-processed poultry products to 184 per cent up from 20 per cent. This, they said, would give local poultry producers a better chance of competing.
As it related to burgers, the BMA had argued that some companies were overlooking local producers to import those products and this was also creating an “uneven playing field”.
“With the burgers it is a matter where ground beef, or mince meat as they call it, is in the basket of goods. So it is VAT free and duty free. So people are using that tariff number to import formed, frozen hamburgers. So we have been trying to get that broken because we have three manufacturers here – Hipac, Jason Jones and the BADMC – who make amazing burgers, but they are being affected because burgers are coming in VAT and duty free,” explained McKay.
She said the pending solution was to have “a separate breakout tariff for burgers” so they would be charged VAT and duties whenever they are imported. McKay did not say what those charges would likely be.
“It is not mince meat, it is cheating. I don’t care what other word you call it, it is cheating and the local manufacturer is paying VAT and charging VAT . . . So that is one we are close to winning on,” the BMA official added.
She added that while the association was “still struggling” with getting the tariff raised on the poultry products there have been “a lot of movements”.
“The one thing we are waiting for is that there has to be a change within CARICOM,” said McKay.
“All of the CARICOM governments have agreed in principle but only six, as far as I know, have signed off on it. So we are waiting for the others to sign off on it. Hopefully that will happen within six to eight weeks. I am being optimistic,” she said.