St Lucia announces six-percent service charge on imported price-controlled goods

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Minister for Commerce, Manufacturing, Business Development, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs, Emma Hippolyte, and Permanent Secretary, Sophia Alfay-Henry

By Caribbean News Global contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia – In a statement Friday, June 10, the consumer affairs department of the ministry of commerce, manufacturing, business development cooperatives and consumer affairs, advised that the government of Saint Lucia has approved the suspension of a six-percent service charge on imported price-controlled goods. The importation of all sizes of goods under the Price Control Order will now be subject to price control.

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“You may have heard minister with responsibility for commerce and consumer affairs, Emma Hippolyte informed the nation that the government has approved the suspension of the six- percent service charge on imported price-controlled goods, as a short-term measure to cushion or “ease the squeeze” on consumers as a result of the rising prices of goods and services” said permanent secretary Sophia Alfay-Henry.

The consumer affairs department advised: “The ministry through the consumer affairs department is responsible for monitoring the importation, prices and sale of a group of goods that the government considers necessary for the daily sustenance of the average consumer, and to assist in the development of key sectors.”

Price-controlled goods include oil, milk, tuna fish, salted biscuits, sardines, baby foods, cement, etc. They are controlled either by a specific wholesale and retail markup or by a fixed price.

According to the statement from consumer affairs department:

“The measure applies to all goods controlled by a specific markup; for example, milk: powdered and evaporated attract mark-ups of 71/2 percent and 10 percent on wholesale and retail respectively. Therefore, the prices of those goods at the supermarkets, small shops or any retail/wholesale outlet should not exceed the prices approved by the department.”

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“Goods already imported and either in warehouses or on the shelves of retailers have been priced using the six-percent service charge. These prices will remain until goods are exhausted. The price changes are expected for goods being imported from June 01. There will be no application of the service charge by the Customs and Excise Department. If the landed cost of the imported goods remains the same, given that the service charge will not be applied and the mark-up is fixed, then the price to the consumer will be lower.”

The short-term government measure announced Friday is said to apply to goods imported from June 1 to August 31, 2022, inclusive of 13 items and sizes that are currently under price control.

However, permanent secretary Sophia Alfay-Henry indicated that “a further review of the sizes of these goods is being done and an update will be provided in due course.”

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Meanwhile, the minister of commerce and chairperson of the Cannabis Taskforce, minister Hippolyte, on Thursday noted the fact-finding mission to St Vincent and the Grenadines, Wednesday 8 June to conduct a tour of several cannabis establishments, “seeks to draw on best practices globally so as to best inform the path that the Saint Lucia industry will take.”

“For clarity, the cannabis industry in Saint Lucia has long been a political football and a welcome underground economy to the benefit of all sectors of the socio-economic life of the country,” a Caribbean News Global (CNG) article noted, July 30, 2020.

Perhaps the opportunity has arisen for the cannabis industry in Saint Lucia to be considered a short-term government measure and included as a domestic and imported price-controlled item, to “ease the squeeze” on consumers and improve the economic development ecosystem.

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