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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.

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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.

21 replies on “15-year tax break, other major incentives for Rainforest Seafoods SVG”

  1. Agustus Carr says:

    There are so many young Vincentians that would like to start their own businesses but can’t get a tax incentive to do so or can’t find a space to rent because it’s to expensive for them. Yet we can cozy up with a foreign investor and give him a 15 year incentivize tax break. Additionally, we seek to jail the few Vincentian who can’t pay VAT for various reasons.

    It appears we have not learn anything twenty years after the Sporting Good’s debacle. What a calamity? It is clear that many of these Caribbean Governments have become trapped in the resurgence of colonialism where people of colour are at mercy of the wealthy white expatriates.

    Our country is failed political institution. I wish the day will come when the Vincentian electorate will gain the wisdom to understand neither of these two political parties will serve their needs are interest. Instead a radical departure is needed from the status quo to elect a party that will see all Vincentians as equals and serve their interest with mutual respect.

    1. @Carr. I agree with your general reasoning and sentiments, but to think that a different new political party would make a difference would be living in a fools world, and I know you are not a fool. All of the Caribbean modern day Politicians are the same. Just care about their own self interest and their lackies and pimps.

  2. Jolly Green says:

    Lobster stock will be quickly depleted perhaps even wiped out by the intensity of the lobster fishing required to make this project viable.

  3. If the government offers this package deal to major hotel/resort investors, we will see some hotel chains in SVG in quick time,thus creating much needed employment and boosting the economy tremendously.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      Various governments have offered deals like this to mainland hotel developers for decades but there have been no takers except Dave Ames of Harlequin and the Romano family of Black Sands Resort at Buccament.

    2. SJOHN, the problem is that taxes are so high in SVG that it is near impossible for anyone of moderate means with a great idea to create and build a sustainable business or industry from the ground up, only the rich. When a local does so it survives longer than when a foreign entity does so. We will never see a Bill Gates in SVG because the government is too greedy and stupid to realize that they can benefit from crafting policy that creates an environment for opportunity. The government caters to rich foreigners that will fail after the tax breaks are run out. I think most of these governments are just too stupid to figure out that they have to craft tax laws that are fair and consistent for locals even more than foreign businesses. The NDP has been saying just what I am saying but they are not doing a very good job getting thier point across to those that may want to get a job instead of getting free lumber at election time.

  4. At rate exportation SVG will not have enough seafood or beef to feed its population, there is no way SVG can maintain this deal without completely depleting the island natural resource. The quantity is too much! Unless they are being raise in a farm, natural replication of these seafood/beef does take place that fast. They are exporting cows now seafood! Please use your head wisely.

    1. Concerned you really should be, because our children will not be able to feed themselves.

      It is coming, agriculture has already been destroyed. Bananas and arrowroot gone through.

      Coffee and cocoa are cash export crops the people cannot readily eat them.

      The Taiwanese, Chinese, and Russians have already been allowed to over-fish and devastate our distant water fishing.

      Now we will allow a fishing company to take all our Lobster and Conch stocks and we will not even get tax from them. You can be sure when the stocks dwindle they will be gone, tax incentive or no tax incentive.

  5. C ben-David says:

    On another Internet news site, it was recently reported that, “The [Rainforest Seafood] Calliaqua facility, which is in proximity to the Argyle International Airport, will be critical to exporting live and fresh seafood to international markets.”

    This is a questionable assertion because Rainforest Seafood has always exported all its produce from Jamaica in frozen form, suggesting that this is little more than pro-AIA propaganda.

    Still, these concessions are par for the course all over the world, in rich and poor countries alike, a process that is part of a race to the bottom in the foreign direct investment (FDI) sector of global capital accumulation.

    Though FDI is welcome in SVG given the low level of both wealth and entrepreneurship among our local business class, it has many well known disadvantages as well, the most notable of which — as has been repeatedly pointed out by its local critics — is the recolonization of our country by rich white foreigners, a process called neo-colonialism which, ironically, has been repeatedly denounced by our local, left-leaning quasi-intelligentsia, including several members of the current ruling elite and their sycophants.

    But in little SVG, the more things change, the more they stay the same, in this case the fact that white people have always enslaved us aided and abetted by our own people.

    1. Interesting opinion and I am sure very accurate. I do not know if this foreign company have white-skinned people or not and it does not matter to me. What concerns me is that this foreign company gets concessions and local companies do not. It is certainly unfair. The way this government conducts business is obviously unfair.
      If they instead had policy that had low taxation to all start-ups, where the local companies get a slight advantage over the foreign, it would be accepted by all. This is how it is in most all countries in the world. Instead the government bases taxes on how much money the investor has. The more the foreign investor has for investment the less they pay. That is why everyone in SVG is upset seeing that foreign companies get advantages and local companies get little or none.
      The government should do like Singapore did and to a certain extent still does:
      Have low fair taxes for everyone, all the time, and we will get more investment. Instead we have temporary low taxes for rich foreign investors and very high taxes for locals.

      The foreigners eventually leave and we locals are stuck going nowhere as the government takes the lion’s share of all our profits until we too close shop as the government slowly gets poorer because they do not understand how to manage an economy.

    2. When the talk of fresh export of Lobster and Conch [or Lambi as the Bajans call it] they are talking about Barbados who have already out-fished both conch and lobster.

      Barbados have been buying our lobster for a number of years now, the owner of the Lobster Shack used to fly his little old airplane over and load it up.

      As the fishing is over-fished they move to another island to be able to supply the one they have just wrecked. They fly it in live then people think it is local. But now the price carries a huge premium.

      Rainforest have a depot in Barbados.

      The main things they are interested in are Lobster and Conch, everything else is secondary.

      The two boats mentioned will probably be used for lobster pot fishing.

      If you do the sums EC$20 million represents at least 2 million pounds of lobsters which on average represent almost 700,000 lobsters.

      Anyone who thinks our waters can sustain that for more than a couple of years must be called Gonsalves.

    3. Yes the owner of Rainforest and his two sons who run the company are all white Americans.

      Ralph Gonsalves is a white Vincentian.

      What has any of that got to do with price of fish?

      You racist commentators make me laugh you are so stupid.


  6. C. ben-David says:

    This and other governments would always offer the lowest possible incentives to get people to invest here: small local companies and individuals would always accept lower or no incentives because they are stuck here at home for personal or business reasons; large foreign multinational companies have the whole world to invest in so would be able to negotiate much higher incentives. It’s called the law of supply and demand.

    Also, our small business class is very shy about borrowing tons of money to expand their operations or open new ones. In other words, they are “risk adverse” unlike large foreign enterprises that generally have very large debts but are very “risk tolerant.”

    This has nothing to do with unfairness or favoritism being shown to foreign entities as some posters falsely claim.

    1. In your comment you lay it out and make my point. Yes, it is unfair and in one sentence you admit it in the next sentence you deny it. It is unfair because the foreign investors can risk the big money and the small cannot, so the government gives them the incentives. Exactly as I said: The foreign investors get an unfair advantage.
      Thank you for agreeing with me even though you say you do not!

  7. C. ben-David says:

    This Prime Minister has been begging the business class to expand their operations or open new ones for years but there has been little local response.

    He has been cajoling the hotel owners in particular to do so but this has had little effect as well except for the expansion of Beachcombers Hotel and the attempted purchase of the shuttered Buccament Bay Resort by Kelly Glass and partners.

    So don’t blame this or other governments here or elsewhere in the Caribbean for being forced to offer generous concessions to attract foreign investors.

    1. C. Ben, the local businesses do not take the opportunity because they do not get the concessions that the wealthy foreign investors do, (to include Kelly Glass). THAT MEANS IT IS NO OPPORTUNITY AT ALL FOR THE LOCALS! The tax laws in SVG are certainly unfair. oNLY THE WEALTHY HAVE A CHANCE, AND THAT USUALLY MEANS FOREIGNERS. THE GOVERNMENT HAS LAWS THIS WAY BECAUSE THEY ARE GREEDY! The taxes and duties are so high that it guarantees that SVG businesses can only operate locally and not regionally or globally. When I had two businesses in the USA, at separate times, I was well aware that everyone generally plays by the same rules in the USA. The business taxes are so low (even though people in th US think they are high…until they come here!) that no one really gets or even needs a concession in the USA. In fact, no one will understand you when you say the word “concession” but all vincys know the word!
      This is why the USA used to be the land of opportunity because everyone got the same chance. In SVG only wealthy foreigners have a chance, and even they do not make it because our government is too greedy and does not have any clue as to what they are doing!!!


      SAD ……

  8. Agustus Carr says:

    It is not that I am against tax incentives. However, fifteen (15) years is a very long time. Why not give (5) to eight (8) years? What we really should be doing to establish a set of basic criteria and say to every Vincentian, if you want to start a business all of your imports would be duty free for up to two (2) years. No matter what the business is.

    Why don’t the Government offer some of the lands on the old Arnos Vale Airport for sale or lease to Vincentians so we can help more of our young men and women own businesses? I have a family member who have been trying to find a job for over five (5) years now without avail. I asked her to find a space to be rented for a business and she just can’t find one in a strategic area.

    A few of my friends and I can easily build a three (3) story building or a small shopping center if we can at least get the lands to lease in Arnos Vale. We can easily create 10-15 spaces for young Vincentians to do business.

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