The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has granted a 15-year tax break to Rainforest Seafood SVG Ltd, which says it will invest EC$10 million in a fish processing facility at Calliaqua.
In addition, the government said that no taxes or duties will be imposed on a wide range of items for the construction of the company’s processing facility, as well as equipment, including boats and trucks.
Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves, who is also parliamentary representative for East St. George, where Calliaqua is located, said at the signing ceremony in April that the company, which is headquartered in Jamaica, will “endeavour to purchase from local fisherfolk EC$20 million worth of lobster and fish annually”.
A Nov. 14, 2018 Cabinet memo obtained by iWitness News shows that the
Ralph Gonsalves administration has agreed that no taxes or withholding of any
kind whatsoever will be levied on the company’s income, profits and capital gains
for 15 years.
The 15-year period begins when the company informs the government in writing of the commencement of its commercial operation.
The document further said that no customs duties, value-added taxes or duties will be imposed on any building, materials and finishing, fixtures, fittings, plant, machinery, equipment, tools, spare parts, and construction equipment imported during the construction phase of the project.
Additionally, no customs duties, VAT or other taxes or duties will be imposed on raw materials, intermediate goods, consumables, and packaging material which are imported or purchased locally in connection with the project.
This packaging material includes non-styrofoam packaging material and Styrofoam boxes for the sole purpose of packaging live lobster, fish and other seafood products for export.
Further, the company, which also has facilities in Jamaica, Belize, Barbados, the Bahamas and St. Lucia, will receive duty-free concessions on the importation of two freezer trucks, three pickups, two freezer forks, two outside forks, three electrical pallet jacks (walkies), two reefer containers for transporting products to the airport, and boat engines for two boats mentioned.
The renewal of the duty-free concessions on these items will take place four years after the date of their importation.
The company will also receive duty-free concessions on the importation of one tractor head, two chassis, and two boats to be used for the transporting product and fishermen’s supplies between the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines only.
The company will be eligible for a renewal of the duty-free concession on the importation of these items after eight years.
In addition to the tax incentives, the government is renting to Rainforest Seafood SVG a property at the monthly rate of EC$6,500 for 25 years with the option to renew for 25 years on terms to be negotiated.
The monthly rent is waived during the period of construction of the plant, provided that the period of construction concludes within 18 months from the date that Rainforest obtains all the permission required to lawfully construct the plant.
At last month’s signing ceremony, the finance minister said the EC$20 million injection into SVG’s fisheries sector by Rainforest Seafoods is very significant.
“It’s transformative and there is no way to gainsay that,” Gonsalves told the signing ceremony on April 10 at Argyle International Airport.
“If Rainforest Seafoods can ramp up to those sorts of numbers and I am glad that it is recorded in the contract, it would have an absolutely transformative effect on the fisheries sector in St Vincent and the Grenadines and you will see it and feel it in the livelihoods of fisherfolk,” Gonsalves said.
“Fishing is an expanding sector in St Vincent and the Grenadines. In my budget address a few months ago, the data I had seen said fish landings were up 45 per cent year over year and the value of the fish was close to 60 per cent year over year and the constraint that we currently have is the capacity of our fisherfolk to meet the increase in demand,” he said.