People with disabilities pleased with removal of VAT, taxes on equipment

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Finance Minister Colm Imbert has announced the removal of VAT and customs duties on specified therapy equipment, hearing impaired, visually impaired, physical mobility disabilities, safety peripherals and communications, which will assist people with disabilities to buy the peripherals and equipment at a reduced cost.

During the 2022 budget presentation on Monday, he said this measure will take effect on January 1.

Blind Welfare Association executive officer Kenneth Surrat said he was pleased with the decision. He said some of the equipment which would be covered would be technology used by disabled people.

“A lot of people who are blind, we use technology to improve our lives. In addition, the Braille devices we would use – Braille paper, everything that people buy online – is heavily taxed.

“I’m seeing it’s going to benefit our community – not only the blind, but walkers, wheelchairs, hearing aids, so many things for the disabled. I’m very pleased with what the government has done from that aspect to remove taxes for special devices we would use.”

He said the association, along with other disabled groups, had provided a list of devices to Imbert which had been accepted.

“You’re talking about all the laptops, phones, talking watches, games for the blind, all the machines that cover speech, because we use all the technology.

“I didn’t see anything about raising the disability grant, but I think the removal of VAT from certain items, that will help disabled people.

“We also have an aging population, and reducing the cost of these items would help a lot of poor people in their homes with their elderly folks and so on. You know, if you get a proper hearing aid and somebody hears once more, it changes their life so much, or a proper glasses – all those things will help.”

He said he was looking forward to the debate to hear the viewpoints of the different parliamentarians.

He said he was concerned about the deficit.

“I’m hoping some day to come (that we) have a balanced budget, because I’m concerned about putting debt for the younger generation to pay when we’re not around.”

WeCare Deaf Support Network founder Quishiba La Fleur said the initiative was a good one which meant that not only therapy equipment, but educational equipment would be more accessible to people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

“It’s a good initiative to remove the VAT and taxes off equipment and machinery that relates to therapy, for deaf, blind, or anyone who needs it. It means we could focus now on purchasing equipment that is quite necessary.

“It’s not just therapy. There’s educational equipment we need as well for deaf children in the classroom, etc, so having the taxes being exempted means you could try putting a foot forward to get things that are related to them for their education or health and bring them.”

La Fleur,  a former manager of the TT Association for the Hearing Impaired (TTAHI), said the move would also help the association.

“They do testing there. So if the VAT and taxes are removed, they would be able to purchase some of the equipment that would be quite costly when they get into the country, when you purchase or order it online.

“In addition, private-sector entities who do testing would also be able to take advantage of the initiative.”

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