House approves 25% customs duty change
A standardised 25 percent duty rate on imported personal goods was approved by MPs last night.
Personal duty free allowance for goods brought in through the airport will also increase from $100 to $200 per person under the Customs Tariff Amendment Act.
Meanwhile temporary measures restricting the allowance to one claim per household will be abolished.
Government hopes the new rate on personal goods will encourage people to shop locally; Bermuda Chamber of Commerce had lobbied for such a move.
However courier companies complain it will make life more difficult for Bermudians, especially the construction industry, as homeowners will be charged more on building supplies.
The rate for clothing is currently 6.5 percent, shoes are ten percent, cameras are 8.5 percent and vitamins are 15 percent.
Introducing the debate on the bill last night, Premier and Finance Minister Paula Cox told the House of Assembly: “Honourable members will recall the announcement and implementation in the autumn of last year of a basket of emergency rescue measures to assist businesses struggling with the negative impact of the recession.
“These included temporary tariff measures intended to discourage personal spending abroad, and to help steer expenditure into the local retail sector, namely, the restriction of the duty free allowance for accompanied goods of returning residents to one person per household and a duty rate increase from 25 percent to 35 percent on accompanied goods declared by returning residents.
“Without a strong retail presence we cannot hope to attract either international business or tourism to Bermuda.”
The measure met with little debate and no opposition. The Premier explained that people bringing in goods for business purposes would pay lower rates.
And there will be no duty charged for certain renewable energy goods brought in by post of courier.
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