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Customs duty to be eliminated on 21 essential goods

David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Government yesterday tabled legislation to make a number of essential goods duty free in an effort to address the cost of living.

David Burt, the Premier, said the Customs Tariff Amendment (No 3) Act 2022, tabled in the House of Assembly, would drop duty rates on 21 essential items, including a variety of food and sanitary products.

Mr Burt said: “Since the House rose just before Cup Match, we have been working on concrete measures to address the cost of living.

“As I said then, the cost of food is increasing and the Government is committed to reducing the price for essential goods that many families must buy weekly.”

“This legislation reduces the duty on these items to 0 per cent, and that reduction will serve to reduce costs to consumers.

“Critically, we have not just applied this to food but also to diapers for babies, laundry and dish detergent and feminine products like pads and tampons.”

The Bill, first promised in July, would reduce the duty rate to zero on ground beef, chicken (fresh, chilled or frozen), turkey (fresh, chilled or frozen), butter, processed cheese slices, cheddar cheese, green beans, fresh bananas, pepper, cooking oil, tuna (canned and dry packed), pasta, bread (fresh or chilled), jam, peanut butter, tomato ketchup and other tomato sauces.

Other items included in the legislation are bath soap bars, laundry detergent, dish detergent, diapers for babies, and sanitary towels (pads) and tampons.

The items had been subject to a variety of duty rates ranging from 5 per cent to 25 per cent.

Existing duty rates

Ground beef: 5 per cent

Chicken: 5 per cent

Turkey: 5 per cent

Butter: 5 per cent

Processed cheese slices: 5 per cent

Green beans: 5 per cent

Fresh bananas: 5 per cent

Cooking oil: 5 per cent

Tuna: 5 per cent

Pasta: 12.5 per cent

Bread: 12.5 per cent

Jam: 5 per cent

Peanut butter: 5 per cent

Tomato ketchup and tomato sauces: 15 per cent

Bath soap bars: 12.5 per cent

Laundry detergent: 12.5 per cent

Diapers for babies: 6.5 per cent

Sanitary towels (pads): 25 per cent

Tampons: 25 per cent

The legislation also offers a zero per cent duty on goods for the local, commercial production of bread and baked goods by approved businesses.

The Bill states that the act will come into effect “on such day as the Minister of Finance may by notice in the Gazette appoint”.

Mr Burt added: “Bermudian families are working hard to make ends meet, and the Government has a responsibility to deliver relief to support the people.

“Grocers, retailers and wholesalers have been ollaborative and continue to work with the Cost of Living Commission in this effort, and I truly thank them.

“This is another step in providing assistance to the community and keeps the promise the Government made to provide relief in key areas.”

The move is part of a $15 million financial relief package previously announced by the Government as part of efforts to address the high cost of living and comes after the last set of consumer price index figures which showed food inflation was at 8 per cent.

The package, announced in July, also included a $3.8 million payroll tax rebate for lower-income earners, $567,000 for school supplies for students in public schools, a $931,651 increase in the food allowance for people on financial assistance and $500,000 for the purchase of LED light bulbs to be distributed to families.

At the time, the Government said the duty reductions on foods were expected to cost the Government about $3 million.

* This story has been updated to include more details from the Premier’s statement as well as the current level of duty on the items named by David Burt.

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Published October 02, 2022 at 8:13 pm (Updated October 02, 2022 at 8:13 pm)

Customs duty to be eliminated on 21 essential goods

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