Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley announced new measures in a bid to protect Barbadians from the high cost of living.
Speaking in an address to the nation on Thursday afternoon, Mottley said there was no doubt that many Barbadian households were facing unprecedented pressure, caused by events over which they had no control, but were feeling the effects.
She referenced the ongoing global health pandemic caused by COVID-19 as well as the war in Ukraine, which has in turn impacted the supply chain, driven up the cost of petroleum products and grains needed for both human and animal consumption.
“Today I am announcing for your benefit, a series of measures that will kick in in the coming days or weeks and indeed, Minister Ryan Straughan will address some of them in Parliament in a Ministerial Statement on Tuesday morning so as to ensure that those things that require the force of law will have that benefit by reason of his statement to Parliament and the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act.”
She later said: “There is no knight in shining armour coming to rescue us. Our survival rests in our own hands. “
The new measures are:
- Primary Schools, via the School Meals Department, will continue to provide meals to children up to the age of 11 from July 25 to September 2, 2022 allowing those children to have meals at the designated locations within their communities.
- The Ministry of Finance is reducing the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 17.5 per cent to 7.5 per cent for the electrical charge on the first 250kw/h on everyone’s household electricity bill.
- The list of essential foods will be expanded and there will be no value added tax (VAT) on these items and others will attract no duties.
- Government will sign a compact with the private sector on Saturday to offer a price reduction on 445 essential items, from July 21 to January 31, 2023.
On the matter of the high electricity prices Mottley said: “Earlier this year, my Government introduced a number of measures that would have led to a capping of the Value Added Tax (VAT) with respect to fuel at the price of US$80 dollars a barrel and we have seen the price of oil go as high as over $125 US dollars a barrel and that has not been passed onto Barbadians with respect to the VAT which we have.
“The reality is that the Government has determined that every Barbadian household should have the first 250kw/h removed from a V.A.T rate of 17.5 per cent to a new VAT rate of 7.5 per cent. This is going to represent on average a savings of about $17 to every Barbadian household, regardless of whether you use the 250kw/h or not.”
According to data provided from Barbados Light and Power, 63 per cent of all Barbadian households use 250kw/h or less per month and that will mean a decrease in their electricity bill from $204.46 to $187.06, meaning they will save $17.40 cents. This reduction will cost the Government $10.5 million in total, running from August 1 to January 31, 2033.
The list of essential food items has been expanded to include hot chocolate, corn flakes, cream of wheat, sliced ham, black tea, honey, peanut butter, pears and apples. VAT has also been removed from these items.
There is no VAT on citrus items and the aim is that the removal of duties on food items such as oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits will help boost the immune system of Barbadians in the ongoing battle against COVID-19. (JC)
The following is the list of items that the private sector has agreed will not attract mark-ups higher than between 12 and 15 per cent:
• Chicken: whole Chicken, chopped mix, stew chicken and backs.
• Pork: hind legs/stew pork/knuckles/hocks
• Beef (stew)
• Breakfast oats 400g-450g
• Sliced ham (100s) (VAT to be removed)
• Milo 300g (VAT to be removed)
• Drinking chocolate (VAT to be removed)
• Evaporated milk 250ml
• Baby food milk 454g
• Milk 1-litre 100%
• NZ Cheddar Cheese (cut/wrap)
• Soya Bean/Sunflower cooking oil (900ml-1L)
• Rice (1750g-2kg)
• Macaroni long 400g
• Biscuits – Eclipse/Soda singles (multi-pack)
• Sandwich bread – white/whole wheat/regular
• Salt bread (white)
• Gala apples (fresh)
• Sardines (oil/water)
• Tuna chunk (oil/water)
• Corned beef
• Split peas 400g (tin and fresh)
• Pigeon peas 400g (tin and fresh)
• Black-eyed peas 400g (fresh)
• Flour (2kg)
• Margarine Sunflower regular 445g (chill)
• Black tea 25s
• Cream of Wheat (VAT to be removed)
• Peanut butter
• Chow mein
• Toilet soap bar 100g-120g
• Toilet paper 6pk
• Sanitary napkins 10pk
• Baby diapers 12pk
• Toothbrushes (singles)
• Toothpaste 125g (4oz)
• Deodorant (roll-On)
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