New customs duty legislation passed
New customs duty legislation designed to raise revenue for Government has been passed by the House of Assembly.
The Customs Tariff Amendment Act 2015 will raise fuel duty by five cents a litre from next month, generating $9.6 million in additional revenue, according to Government.
It also provides tax breaks for people wanting to import “mushroom spawn, strawberry plants and trees of kinds that bear edible fruits or nuts”, to encourage local food production.
The increase in fuel duty was the subject of intense criticism in the House of Assembly on Wednesday by Progressive Labour Party members including leader Marc Bean and Shadow Finance Minister David Burt, who described the move as “not good economic policy”. But Finance Minister Bob Richards said that while he had “hesitated” about the move in the past, it was needed to “break the back of the deficit”.
The legislative amendments included more incentives for commercial food production in Bermuda.
Mr Richards said: “To encourage and support local food production, it is proposed to introduce a zero rate of duty for mushroom spawn, strawberry plants and trees of kinds that bear edible fruits or nuts.
“This is consistent with the zero rate of duty that has traditionally applied to other generative materials, such as seed potatoes and seed for sowing.
“As a further incentive to local commercial food production, the Bill proposes to subsume all existing commercial food production reliefs in one harmonised end-use relief.
“There are five separate reliefs for goods for local food production. These include relief for the poultry industry, the dairy industry, commercial fishing, commercial aquaculture, and commercial farming.
“The new duty relief for goods for local food production will extend to all goods imported for use in connection with the local commercial production of animal or vegetable products for human consumption.”