Customs duty to rise as allowance rule changes
Premier Paula Cox will tomorrow table amendments to increase the duty payable on goods bought abroad by residents.
The rise, from 25 percent to 35 percent, will apply to goods that accompany travellers and are brought into the Island for their personal use.
The amendments will also reduce travellers’ duty free allowance. When travelling together, only one member per household will be able to make the $100 claim until March 31. The allowance was previously available to each person.
Household members are defined as persons living in the same residence regardless of whether or not they are related and therefore includes employers and employees, house-sharing arrangements and any other reason.
The changes are intended to help the retail sector, which has suffered in the difficult economic climate, a Government spokeswoman said.
“Specifically, the tariff measures are intended to discourage personal spending abroad, and to help steer expenditure into the local retail sector, thereby boosting sales and keeping approximately 4,000 Bermudians employed in local stores.”
Duty-free items will remain duty free and the duty rate for cigarettes will remain unchanged.
“The duty rate does not affect importers of commercial goods, nor does the restriction of the $100 duty allowance affect any other duty free allowance,” the spokeswoman said.
“For example, each arriving passenger will still be allowed to import one litre of wine, one litre of spirits, 0.5kg of tobacco, 50 cigars and 200 cigarettes without payment of duty.”
The changes were initially to come into effect on October 1 but were then put off until tomorrow’s reconvening of Parliament.
They received a mixed reaction when first announced by Ms Cox in September.
The retail sector expressed optimism that the amendments would help to encourage people to shop locally.
Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards said the measures would do little to help. He argued that the combination of fewer tourists, and guest workers leaving the Island are the primary reasons for the retail sector’s decline.
l See Business, Page 18