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Import duty exemption post hurricanes was abused- Hon Fraser

- said some persons took advantage of the import duty exemption & and bought things they normally would not have bought
Honourable Julian Fraser RA (left), Third District Representative, told the House that persons took advantage of the import duty exemption while some persons who really needed it did not benefit, while asking Premier and Minister of Finance, Dr The Honourable D. Orlando Smith (AL) to investigate into the matter. Photo: VINO/File
A duty-free exemption list was created following hurricane Irma in an effort to allow person to import building supplies and other essential items. Photo: VINO/File
A duty-free exemption list was created following hurricane Irma in an effort to allow person to import building supplies and other essential items. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - Honourable Julian Fraser RA, Opposition Member and Third District Representative, during the Fourth Sitting of the Third Session of the Third House of Assembly (HoA) on Friday April 27, 2018, expressed that the exemption import duty system which the government of the day implemented was abused by some persons while the individuals that desperately needed the system did not benefit.

The duty-free list allowed persons to not pay import duties on items such as food, water, building materials, clothing, vehicles, household furniture and appliances, electrical fixtures, pharmaceuticals and many other items deemed necessary.

People who needed the break did not benefit

Hon Fraser strongly expressed that the individuals who really deserved the exemption were unable to get the benefit before the deadline ended due to not receiving insurance money on time as well as losing their bank cards.

He stated, “The people who got damages, the people it was intended for as long as they can prove that this was the case, they have evidence then Premier it should be accommodated. Of course, the people can’t get their insurance money. Some people have money, but they couldn’t find their bank book or their card, some people lost their credit card. So we have to make special accommodation for people.”

The Third District Representative told the House that he would “hate” to know that the persons who really needed the import duty break end up being “penalised”. “Premier I really want you to look into this.”

“Persons capitalised on the exemption”

The Opposition Member further stated that the duty exemption was not used for its purpose that it was intended for and requested that Premier Smith investigates into the matter before the deadline of June 30, 2018, expires, while adding that he believes that a few persons took advantage of the duty break.

“Some people went out and they capitalised on this exemption that you’ve given to buy things that they never had. They bought new cars and they never had a car and their car wasn’t damaged in the hurricane. People went out and they bought building materials to build houses that were never damaged and they got that exemption,” Hon Fraser explained.

Duty-free import will stimulate the economy

Meanwhile, some residents had expressed that the government should not have included some items on the list because this denies the territory of funds needed to pay government bills but Premier Smith emphasised that the duty-free import will stimulate the Virgin Islands (VI) economy.

He said,The more we can encourage them to get started, get the building supplies that in itself will jump-start the economy and result in more revenues for the government as well. Therefore the spin-off effect of assisting people to bring in their items, that itself will stir the economy and improve the government coffers as well.”

12 Responses to “Import duty exemption post hurricanes was abused- Hon Fraser”

  • hog city (30/04/2018, 10:02) Like (8) Dislike (12) Reply
    We need people like hon frazer to remain in power
  • Pure BULL (30/04/2018, 10:03) Like (6) Dislike (9) Reply
    How could freebies stimulate the economy?
  • vote them out (30/04/2018, 10:12) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    Whenever there is something for the people they have a problem can't wait until next elections
  • wize up (30/04/2018, 10:13) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    we have lots of laws somehow regulations & enforcement is our major issue: an unrelated question and simply a “question”....when Hon Fraser wins will he join forces with VIP; NDP or is the Hon Fraser seeking to establish his own political affiliates......he will make a more careful leader(just asking!!!!) will Julian link up with Julian....
  • Know (30/04/2018, 10:40) Like (11) Dislike (2) Reply
    It was all a conspiracy the hardware guys did not like the exemption either. They even raised their prices. You know it was inhumane and terrible. The port was in shambles at a time when it was needed. Employees had to work part time so they could not be laid off. So you could not get your stuff until weeks after.

    And the beat goes on, the people of this territory continue to be in the dark on why and how the country got in this state. The hurricane is not to blame it was before, even the flood. The Auditor General report, the audit done by the private company nobody is saying anything including the Governor's Office.
  • Yes (30/04/2018, 11:28) Like (25) Dislike (0) Reply
    People bought things that they wouldn't normally buy. WTF? If things are duty free like vehicles and other expensive stuff why wouldn't anyone with half a brain not take advantage of the duty free period?
    • wize up (30/04/2018, 12:44) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
      @LOL: second the motion!!!! Especially(WTF)...all manner of so-called rich investors gets what they want free of BVI tax while the small man must comply with the BVI tax tariff: imagine the so called ones who have funds and can pay taxes simply goes free(now that’s a WTF moment)
  • nonsense (30/04/2018, 13:15) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Why those in authority didn’t put in place a plan to ensure who needed to benefit did and not wait to judge in the end. Favourism and abuse in my dictionary means the same thing this process should have been supervised to ensure it was working properly.Rules can be made but without the proper persons to execise conscience of course things will turn out the bvi nonsense ways
  • YOLO (30/04/2018, 13:24) Like (2) Dislike (6) Reply
    Frazer need to sit down I happy for the free duty tax dr smith is looking out for the people...VIP need to get rid of you... you want to boast money fix the road, get the tourist back in sell some weed
    • wize up (30/04/2018, 14:56) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
      @ yolo: you live in BVI: man!!!; VIP pushed that fellow from the moving train back 2015: all he holding on 2 is RA: let me update u; former chairman; can you now say former leader of the opposition: next election we will have a host of independent contractors(those who win) will be looking for position: lots of them going to the highest bidder(if you need me on your team) give me a ministry and let form the ruling administration(it happened back in the days)
  • E. Leonard (30/04/2018, 18:23) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    The territory was decimated by 2 Cat 5 catastrophic hurricanes, Irma and Maria, with estimated damages at $3.6B, including personal, business, commercial, institutional, government, public safety..........etc property losses. As such, it was good policy and politics to ease the import duty on some basic items; it was a life line for many people to get back on their feet, to start life anew. The easing of the duty was not means tested; it applied to all residents regardless of their position on the economic ladder. In easing the import duties, at least two things should have been clear 1) government revenue intake would diminish and 2) many residents would take advantage of the lowered duty. True, conditions/criteria could have been established for received the break on duty, ie, proof of actual losses, partial duty reduction on some items........etc. Much administrative action would have been needed to manage the import duty reduction.

    True, delay in processing and settling some property insurance claims may have prevented some residents from taking advantage of the import duty avoidance. The timeline should be extended for these specific residents. The application for duty avoidance should be tied to hurricane related losses.
    • Political Observer (PO) (01/05/2018, 02:17) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Agree that the tax holiday on some items should have been tied to certifiable hurricane losses, ie, property damages........etc. The tax holiday should have been on basic items, not luxury items. The temporary waiver should have been a 100% on some items and partial reduction on others.

      Moreover, we always come down hard on the “lil man” but tight lip on others who abused pioneer status and take the profit and move on. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Yes, pioneer status may be needed to encourage investment but they should be laden with guarantees and performance deliveries, ie, providing a number of jobs by a certain/reasonable time frame, bringing on stream X number of rooms............etc.

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