The Allen Chastanet government is laying blame on former Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony and his government for the recent reintroduction of import duties on medicine.
The Kenny Anthony government had secured the agreement of CARICOM to suspend the common external tariff on pharmaceuticals for a period of four years, which began from May 01, 2012 and ended on April 30, 2016.
However, the new administration is now seeking to have this renewed by November, 2016 at the next Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) meeting.
Minister within the Ministry of Finance Dr. Ubaldus Raymond said he was informed that the suspension expired last week.
Now that the import duties have been restored, this will most likely be reflected in higher costs for medicines.
But the new government is not taking blame for this. Instead, Dr. Raymond claims that Dr. Anthony was reminded about the expiration date, in a letter dated March 5, 2016.
According to the minister, Dr. Anthony never responded to the letter.
“This government was not responsible for the reintroduction of import duties on medicine. This was ignored by the previous administration and therefore there was reintroduction of the import duties,” the minister claims.
Dr. Raymond said he spoke with officials at the Ministry of Commerce and has since advised them to begin the application process so that the suspension can be reintroduced.
“We will do our best to keep the cost of health care as low as possible. We understand that there are people who need certain types of medicines: diabetes, hypertension, and that is the reason why we have started the process of reapplying to COTED.”
Prior to the implementation of VAT, medicines attracted an import duty of 10 percent followed by 5 percent consumption tax.