CASTRIES: Manufacturers in St. Lucia have urged the government to re-examine issues related to the Value Added Tax (VAT) that was introduced one year ago.
The manufacturers state that with empirical data and stakeholder feedback now available, the government is in position to make the necessary revisions to help deliver stability, jobs and economic growth.
President of the St. Lucia Manufacturers Association (SMA), Paula Calderon, said her members continue to be plagued by policy and implementation issues that threaten their survival one year after the tax was introduced.
Calderon believes the requirement to pay VAT upfront on imported raw and packaging materials, plant, tools, equipment and other supplies has adversely impacted the cash flow of many SMA members.
“This is exacerbated by the fact that the refund process has been slow and cumbersome, resulting in a scenario in which many manufacturers have not been refunded since the inception of VAT,” she said.
Calderon said businesses are finding it difficult to meet their commitments with diminished cash flow, resulting in disrupted operations that impact both staff and consumers.
“These issues have been well articulated in meetings between the SMA and commerce minister, Emma Hippolyte, who has been very supportive of the manufacturing industry,” she said. “We remain hopeful that the requisite changes will be made.”
Both the St. Lucia Employers Federation and the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce have called for a reduction of VAT from the 15 per cent introduced by government.