Tax break for seniors’ homes
Mobility aids for seniors' homes and rest homes will get a pass on customs duty under legislation approved yesterday in the House of Assembly.
Curtis Dickinson, the Minister of Finance, will also get ministerial discretion over a separate tax break to allow a 5 per cent duty rate on goods for local commercial manufacturing.
But Rolfe Commissiong, the Progressive Labour Party backbencher, sounded a warning over the island's ageing population.
Mr Commissiong said the Customs Tariff Amendment (No 3) Bill 2018 was “welcome”.
But he added: “Let's not delude ourselves — this is not enough.
“We have, facing us, a demographic tsunami that is going to overwhelm Bermuda unless we step up the pace.”
MPs heard that the tax break on appliances and fittings for seniors, which would extend to rest homes, was a promise from a speech delivered by David Burt, the Premier, in July.
Mr Dickinson made an amendment from the floor of the House to extend the duty relief to the disabled as well, which was backed by MPs from both sides.
He said the Department of Ageing and Disability Services would oversee the certification of goods qualifying for duty relief.
The concessions will apply to new and existing rest homes as well as private homes.
Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said the cost of living in a care facility was “crippling” and averaged $5,000 to $11,000 a month.
She added discounts to materials for ramps and aids such as stair lifts, standing tubs and grab bars for seniors would help the elderly remain at home.
Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker, told the House that the Government had fielded a request earlier this year from a rest home bringing in appliances and requesting a tax exemption.
Mr Burgess added: “At the time, it could not be done — but the Premier promised me he would fix it.”
Mr Dickinson was questioned by Opposition MPs about the minister's power to approve discounts on imports for local manufacturing.
He told the House: “Existing legislation allows for any and all goods — the proposed amendment closes that loophole.”