VAT removed from care items, health drinks

The Mia Amor Mottley Administration is making good on an election promise to remove the value added tax on feminine care products and what it deems “critical care items”.

In recent years, some women’s organisations and charities have called on Government to reduce or remove VAT on items such as sanitary napkins and tampons to ensure that women and girls could afford to purchase the essential items and thereby reduce or eliminate period poverty.

Citizens have spoken up about the high cost of vitamins and diapers and asked Government to intervene and make them more affordable.

Mottley made the announcement earlier tonight in her Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals in the refurbished House of Assembly to table thumping from her Parliamentary colleagues.

She said: “In our manifesto we gave a commitment that we should review the costs for some essential care personal care items. Following that review, I’m happy to announce that from the first of April 2022, that all sanitary towels and tampons, baby, and adult diapers, anti-perspirants, vitamins and multi-minerals will be zero rated for value added tax purposes.

“This is a long overdue measure that I am proud to introduce and another component of protecting our people, shielding our people, from the cost-of-living increases.”

The Prime Minister, noting that health and wellness was “extremely important”, said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic emphasised why it was critical to deal with chronic non-communicable diseases in Barbados, or what was often referred to during the pandemic as co-morbidities.

And to “assist in this fight”, she announced the zero rating of some items to help people with diseases such as diabetes to manage better.

“I propose to go further than where the manifesto went and to zero rate a selected list of items which are used primarily to assist with the control of chronic diabetes but also to provide meal supplements for people who are suffering badly. What are we talking about? Glucerna, ensure, Enterex, and Pediasure , , , .”

Mottley said they were areas that families needed “an ease on because when somebody in the house is sick, that is humbugging yuh head enough”.

She further told the Lower Chamber the Ministry of Commerce will have a key role in ensuring compliance with the measures. Therefore, staff in the Department of Commerce, which forms part of the Minister of Energy and Business Development Kerrie Symmonds’ portfolio, will be tasked with ensuring that price protocols, accessed from the private sector and “public if necessary”, will be published every bi-weekly.

This step would be done so “all Barbadians may see what prices are out there” and “vote with their feet and their pocket where they need to go”.

She added: “I have similarly asked that monthly reports be prepared for submission to the Cabinet and through the Minister of Labour to the Social Partnership so as to ensure that the sacrifice being borne by the taxpayers that I’ve announced today, genuinely reaches the pockets of Barbadians where we need them to reach and are not as part and parcel of the profit to be incurred by persons selling these products.

“My intent is to ensure that the reduction in prices is genuinely passed through to consumers.” (GBM)

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