Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is assuring Barbadians that the planned duty-free zones promised almost a year ago will be launched by August this year.
It was in his August 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals that Sinckler had said the zones would provide duty-free shopping for Barbadians and visitors alike.
He said at the time that some areas had already been identified for the duty-free zones to be established, including the capital Bridgetown, Holetown on the west coast, Hastings/Worthing on the south coast and at the two main ports of entry.
Provision was made for this to happen through the Duties, Taxes and Other Payments (Exemption) Act, Cap 67B, the Tourism Development Act, Cap 341 (TDA) and the Special Development Areas Act, Cap. 237A (SDA) with Sinckler promising to establish a special committee to review the initiative with a directive to report its findings and recommendations to him within three months so a firm proposal could be taken to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy for review before it could be forwarded to the entire Cabinet for approval.
However, with the duty-free zones yet to be realized, Sinckler, in delivering the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals on Tuesday evening, said that initiative would now be launched “in coming months, in August to be exact”.
Pointing out that it was a measure that did not have the support of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, Sinckler said he would shortly be laying the amended Special Development Areas legislation, to make way for the establishment of the duty-free zones.
“We will shortly be laying the Special Development Areas legislation to expand the areas that investors can get incentives to do things to improve Barbados’ economic and social development,” he said, adding that the amendments had already been finalized by the staff of the ministries responsible for Finance, Housing and Lands and the Town and Country Planning Department.
“Equally as well Mr Speaker, I will shortly lay in the House an amended Housing Incentives Act which will extend even more generous and targeted concessions to developers interested in pursuing low income housing,” he added.