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A yacht offloads relief supplies from Martinique in Mayreau on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.
A yacht offloads relief supplies from Martinique in Mayreau on Tuesday, July 9, 2024.
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The government has announced duty-free concessions on barrels and boxes of food and other personal items sent to St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the rest of the year in light of the impact of Hurricane Beryl.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves further said that his government would also waive all import duty, VAT and customs service charges on critical items such as chainsaws, jackhammers, generators and water tanks.

The concessions came into effect on July 1 and will continue through Dec. 31.

Gonsalves said there were similar concessions for three months after the April 2021 eruption of La Soufriere volcano.

He noted that the government usually gives concessions on Christmas barrels, beginning in November.

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The prime minister said if the concession is given for three months beginning this month, it would mean that October would be the only month during which the concession would be suspended.

“… so, I wouldn’t bother breaking it. Just do it straight down to Dec. 31,” the prime minister said on NBC Radio.

Gonsalves said this is an important policy, adding that many people overseas want to send barrels and boxes through the government.

“But I don’t really want to use up manpower which we have to use elsewhere to be clearing individual barrels and that sort of thing,” the prime minister said.

He noted that there are regulatory procedures for the importation of chainsaws.

 “They’re not anything significant. Those who import chainsaws know the situation there. And that will help greatly.”

The prime minister said there would also be duty-free waiver on all relief supplies.

He said the government would ask financial institutions for forbearance on loans given to people in the Southern Grenadines.

“And naturally, that discussion has to be taking place between the Ministry of Finance and the banks as we did with the volcanic eruption.”

Gonsalves said that some residents of the affected islands have mortgages and insurance of their property.

“But they will suffer loss on the equity in the property because it’s unlikely that the insurance … is going to cover everything. And when you rebuild, it’s going to cost you more,” the prime minister said.

He said the government would have to provide a mechanism for rebates on duties on building materials for people who rebuild their properties under the insurance arrangement.

“Now, you can’t give a blanket duty-free concession there so easily because that’s difficult to manage,” Gonsalves said.

He said the government might as well waive all concessions on building material 

“… you’d be surprised to know how much materials people will bring in, ostensibly for their house, or some people will get it to be done for them. So, we have to work out a system where that has to be handled properly,” the prime minister said.

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