Local businesses and Barbadians on a whole who are clearing goods at the Bridgetown Port will not have to pay the ten per cent National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) after all, even if the goods landed before the July 1 repeal of the much hated levy.
Government has directed the Customs Department not to apply the NSRL on goods awaiting clearance whether or not they arrived at the port before its repeal date.
Acting Minister of Finance Ryan Straughn explained at a news conference today that initially it was expected that goods that had arrived here before July 1would be subjected to the ten per cent levy.
However, he said another look at the law had clarified the situation.
“Part of the issues was that last year when the NSRL was raised from two per cent to ten per cent on July 1st, there was a directive issued from the previous Minister of Finance that would have allowed the goods that were already landed to only pay the two per cent, rather than pay the ten per cent last year. Now in the same vein then we anticipated that that would remain the case this year, such that persons who would have had goods landed into the port prior to July 1st should have attracted the ten per cent, vis-à-vis zero per cent, which is applicable from July 1st, 2018,” said Straughn, who is acting in the absence Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mia Mottley, who is Jamaica for the Caribbean Community heads of government summit.
“Now having consulted the actual text in the law we recognize obviously that persons are allowed to pay zero per cent in National Social Responsibility Levy even though the goods were landed before [July 1].
“Therefore for the purpose of the public and definitely the importers, we’ve given the directive to the Customs Department that all goods in the port shall attract zero per cent National Social Responsibility Levy since it’s been repealed. Therefore from today all of those goods should be cleared through the port with the normal duties and taxes that would apply, with the exception of the National Social Responsibility Levy,” he stressed.
The acting minister stated that while Government recognized that importers had benefited from paying the two per cent even after the increase last year, it was important that Government abides by the law.
“We’ve made some improvement on the technological side to facilitate business, but we haven’t made the change in respect to the law as it relates to when goods actually enter the country and some definitions that would need to be adjusted on that front,” he said, while revealing that systems at the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) would have to be updated.
“There needs to be an update to the system with respect to the Barbados Revenue Authority given that they support the Customs Department. Therefore those would be made overnight because, as you could imagine, given the directive that was there before, the goods that would have been landed last week would have still reflected the ten per cent given that that was the principle that was being followed.
“So therefore, given that that was inconsistent with what the law actually says, we’re gonna make those adjustments overnight just to make sure that those persons with goods in the port can actually clear those at zero per cent, given the repeal of the levy,” Straughn explained.