Parliament should remove rather than reduce the tax on bananas exported to the Caribbean, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace says.
Lawmakers will on Tuesday debate a motion that could see the tax on each box of banana reduced from EC$3.36 to $1.36 (EC$1=US$0.37)
“I have no objection to the principle. I believe this is being done to assist farmers who are exporting in the region,” Eustace said Monday on his weekly radio programme.
He said the move is important or the viability of these exports in the face of competition from the Dominican Republic and Suriname.
“In giving the extra $2, it reduces the cost and help them to be more competitive,” Eustace, a banana farmer, further said.
“So I have no problem with supporting that. But I understand the difference to be so large in terms of what the others can sell at, I think it would be better to waive the entire license fee … so the farmer saves $3.36 a box on the bananas they are exporting,” he, however, said.
“I think this is the only reasonable way to do this thing, because … it is no big loss to the Consolidated Fund, it is no big loss to Government in terms of revenue. … And that is going to be our recommendation in Parliament tomorrow (Tuesday),” Eustace further stated.
He said that the market for Vincentian bananas across the region could be lost to competition from Suriname and the Dominican Republic because they have a lot more bananas and their price is lower.
Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados are the main buyers of bananas from St. Vincent.