THE Supermarket Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT) is satisfied with the Ministry of Finance's revised and expanded list of food items to be made value-added tax (VAT) free.
In a media release on Thursday morning, its president Rajiv Diptee said the issue of food remained a concern for the population and SATT’s collaboration with the ministry was vital in ensuring such a complex issue was addressed.
He said, “As the issue of food prices continued to be a great source of consternation to consumers, it was always considered imperative that the establishment of a framework for collaboration was to be vital for any avenues to be considered."
Adding that it was important to remain focused on meeting the challenges of the pandemic, along with all stakeholders, he offered "gratitude and sincere thanks to the Minister of Finance for intervening on behalf of consumers during this period.”
His statements came after a release from the ministry on Wednesday evening clarified the food items that would be zero-rated from November 1.
The initial list announced in Parliament on Monday in the budget by the minister, Colm Imbert, caused confusion and SATT sought further clarification and classification of food items, pointing out that some were already listed as zero-rated under Section 8 (2016), Schedule 2 of the Value Added Tax Act.
Diptee said after SATT’s submission to the ministry on October 3, it met again with Imbert on October 6 and revisited the list in the national interest to ensure consumers can access relief in the removal of VAT during what was described as an anomalous period of food price inflation.
It said Imbert demonstrated "an appreciable empathy" for consumers and worked closely with SATT after the budget to take a more expansive look at increasing the basket of basic foods to be made VAT-free.
It complimented: “The breadth of knowledge demonstrated by himself in the treatment of VAT as a complex issue while intimating that the initial list was open to expansion as formulated and subsequently evidenced in a data-driven exercise to examine those items most often purchased by families in the supermarkets
Diptee added that Imbert and Minister in the Ministry of Finance Brian Manning led an initiative with the SATT to examine further the removal of VAT from basic foods, and have committed to review the list periodically, given the backdrop of the pandemic.
Items set to be VAT-free
Oil: Vegetable/soya bean, coconut, canola, ghee
Black pepper and other spices
Family cereal/cereals for children/ hot cereal oats/steel cut oats
Milk substitute, condensed milk
Black/green tea (3kg and under)
Still water (bottled)
Canned tuna, mackerel, peas, beans, corn, mixed vegetables
Geera (crushed or ground)
Meat: pigtail, sausages (canned or otherwise packaged), seasoned meat. ham/turkey slices, chicken lunch meats, bologna
Biscuits and crackers.