Vat Day 2017 welcomes record-level crowds
By Valencia Grant, press secretary to the prime minister of St. Kitts and Nevis
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Businesses throughout St. Kitts and Nevis report experiencing record-level crowds today for 2017 Discounted VAT Rate Day.
The annual Discounted VAT Rate Day allows all VAT registered businesses to charge VAT at the rate of 5 percent on the sale of goods only. All tangible items currently subject to 17 percent VAT qualify for the discount on “VAT Day.” Eligible items must also be available for sale and immediate issuance or delivery to the customer on Discounted VAT Rate Day. Orders for items that are not in stock do not qualify. For vehicle purchases, VAT is exempt on the first $50,000, with VAT at the standard 17 percent charged thereafter.
The press unit in the Office of the Prime Minister visited a number of businesses this morning and the consensus of opinion was that today would go down as another successful VAT Day, if not the most successful. At the TDC Home and Building Depot in St. Kitts, D. Michael Morton, C.B.E., J.P., stood at the entrance of the store, greeting and hugging customers, who seemed happy to see the familiar fixture of the company. Morton sits on the board of directors and previously served as chairman from 2001 up until his retirement from full-time service Feb. 1, 2014.
On busier-than-usual shopping days like today, Morton is there at the company, bright and early. “I’m here making my contribution toward another very successful VAT Day,”’ he said. “In fact, we started this morning shortly after 3 o’ clock, when we accommodated the staff, the hardworking staff who are going to be providing service right down to 5 o’clock today. So, they got here very early, did their shopping, were able to check themselves out and prepare for the most important people – our customers.
“I can tell you, we have had record crowds from 5 o’ clock this morning when we opened our doors,” Morton added. “It was unbelievable – the amount of people who were here awaiting the opening of the doors, and promptly at five they moved into the store and, of course, proceeded to do their shopping. The crowd has not eased.”
Morton believes that the Team Unity government’s decision to pay a 13-month salary or “double salary” this month to all federal and Nevis Island Administration civil servants, pensioners, government auxiliary employees, statutory corporation employees and Skills Training and Empowerment Program (STEP) employees has had a meaningful impact. The government of St. Kitts and Nevis made the 13-month payment today, Discounted VAT Rate Day.
“I believe the extra salary this month is certainly a contributor to the success of this year’s VAT Day,” Morton said. “People are spending wisely and they are buying essential items, and I am so happy that so many [people] have been focusing on buying materials that I know would bring value to them and improve their living standards; in other words, building materials, home appliances, etc., and that has been the main thrust this VAT Day – lots of building materials have been moving out. So, I think people are putting to good use the extra month’s pay.”
Marcia Warner of Lime Kiln, an ice pop entrepreneur for the past five years, spoke with the press unit in the Office of the Prime Minister today while shopping at the TDC Home and Building Depot. Warner said she had more money to work with in general, given that VAT was removed from food items effective April 7, 2015, under the Team Unity administration.
“I had a little more money this year saved for the VAT Day, so everything is coming on good,” Warner said, describing her personal savings as being “excellent.”
“Seeing that the government took VAT off of certain things, I save when I bring in my stuff for my business, so it’s very good,” she adds. “It comes in real handy because I save a whole lot of money. It was real, real, real hard before, but now it’s better. It’s better for me.”
The Team Unity government has also decided that between Dec. 1-31, packages of foodstuff would be allowed free of duty and taxes for the first 400 pounds. Gift packages and the passenger allowance up to a threshold valued at USD$200 would also be allowed free of duty and taxes.
The government is also extending duty-free concessions – on the purchase or importation of building materials – to people whose homes suffered hurricane damage. People are also benefiting from a first-time homeowners’ assistance program that exempts successful applicants from paying import duty and customs service charge on building materials up to a maximum value of $400,000.