By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – With the announcement of a slew of new items being added to the zero-rated category for Value Added Tax (VAT), it was expected that these prices would decrease at retail outlets, but this has not happened in several instances.
During his 2015 Budget speech, Finance Minister, Winston had listed the new items on the VAT exempt list. These are yogurt, cereals, fresh carrots, Milo and Ovaltine, Nestum, Mustard and Mayonnaise, all types of flour, locally-made Chowmein, Vinegar, locally-made uncooked Pasta, Ketchup, Chicken Sausages in packets, locally-produced Chinese Sauce, Baking Powder, Liquid Detergent, household cleaning agents, rolls of paper towels, liquid detergent, household cleaning agent, and computer printers for non-commercial use.
However, on the supermarket shelves, the price for most of these items has remained constant. Jordan was asked about this issue on Wednesday, November 18, where he disclosed that he is aware of the situation.
“If I told you [this] before would you have believed? There was a lot of clamor, there is a lot of clamor,” he said.
“It is not the poorer class of people who you expect to benefit; it is not necessarily those who benefit. In very many cases the savings are appropriated (by retailers),” Jordan stated.
The Finance Minister said that most the prices for the goods are fixed in the markets and the Government does not practice price control, so it is unable to directly address the situation.
“The benefits that you give don’t necessarily reach the bottom. I mean I took all the vat off every flour and I don’t recall seeing bread prices falling. People always tell you all sorts of things; they have other increases in other areas and so on ,” he stated.
Pointing to the decreases in the price for fuel, Jordan stated that the same happens in this sector as the fare for public transportation has not been reduced consequent to the drop in fuel prices.