Barbadians may soon be paying less for imported milk and milk products.
However, president of the Barbados Dairy and Meat Producers Association Annette Beckett told Barbados TODAY she could not give a timeline for the introduction of the proposed pricing arrangement because it was still being negotiated with the government. At the same time, she is hopeful that the specifics of a cess, which was approved by the previous Democratic Labour Party (DLP) administration but never proclaimed, could soon be concluded.
When Prime Minister Mia Mottley addressed the country last week and announced 45 new essential items would be added to the Value Added Tax-free basket of goods, she also mentioned that milk was not one of them because discussions were still underway with farmers regarding the cess.
“The cess is a proposal that both Pine Hill Dairy and the farmers would have put to the government… The last government had passed the Bill but it was never proclaimed. But it is basically that milk and milk products coming in would attract a cess, and that cess would be used to lower the cost to the consumer and to give the farmers a price-rise,” Beckett told Barbados TODAY.
“The whole format and how it is going to happen and that sort of thing have to be negotiated and that is where we are at now. We are still negotiating exactly how it’s going to work. It is now up to Customs… it is fairly technical because it is up to Customs to decide. It is something Pine Hill Dairy will have to pay because they also produce milk other than fresh milk. If it is anything other than fresh milk that comes in that would attract a cess,” Beckett stated.
She said the negotiations were well advanced and once the pricing structure was completed the matter would go to Cabinet.
“It has to go to Cabinet now. We have already spoken with the Ministry of Agriculture. We also have to know what the cost is when it comes in so you can work out what percentage you are talking about. So we are there,” Beckett added.
“The idea is that if it is implemented it would result in a lowering of the price to the consumer as well. We are talking to the Ministry of Agriculture and we are hoping we can get it done because it will redound to the benefit of the consumer who will see a lowering of the price of milk and will redound to the benefit of the farmers who will see a price-rise at the farm gate,” Beckett maintained. [email protected]