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Aug 5, 2019

Enforcement of Sugar Tax – is it CARICOM’s Answer to its Sugar Problems?

Last month the Stabroek News of Guyana published an article outlining the challenges in the sugar sector for CARICOM states. The article headline reads that the, “extensive tax evasion sinking struggling sugar industry.” As we’ve reported in the past, the E.U. market changes from 2017, along with the low global commodity prices for sugar during the last two years have made things tougher for CARICOM sugar producers. As a result, sugar producing countries in CARICOM that are affected are looking for major policy reforms. The article highlights a study commissioned by the Caribbean sugar producers which recommends a regional approach to producing white sugar and urged the enforcement of a tax on most sweeteners imported into the region even as domestic producers highlight extensive tax evasion by importers. Today, we spoke with William Neal of the B.S.I., who is also communications rep for the Caribbean Sugar Association.

 

William Neal

William Neal, Communications Rep, Caribbean Sugar Association

“Sugar Producers in CARICOM finds themselves at a very critical crossroad. Post-2017 EU regime changes, we have had to create new markets. In hindsight, one of the challenges that we face has been one of the region’s making because sending our sugar to the EU, we never focused on our own market. So, we did everything to export to bring in foreign exchange. Now, with the changes in the EU we have to secure our markets. That is significant because most countries do just that. That is where we find ourselves as regional producers.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“How do we tackle that, is it the extra tax?”

 

William Neal

“Well some of it will be handled by full implementation of the CET, universal and standardized. It also requires some enforcement in terms of the policy that already exists. When it comes to brown sugar, you can import brown sugar but you have to pay the CET and we are not sure in all cases if that is indeed happening.”

 

Hipolito Novelo

“Where does Belize stand on this matter and how are we seeing the effects?”

 

William Neal

“Of course we are seeing the effects. We are seeing the numbers decrease considerably of brown sugar going into the region. As a member of the Sugar Association of the Caribbean, what we are doing, Belize as country which includes B.S.I. and Santander is the only regional country that has seen a growth in its sugar sector. So, we are working with Guyana to have these changes come to pass.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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