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Jun 8, 2006

Merchants sell out inventory in advance of G.S.T.

Story PictureIt hasn’t generated quite the same buzz as the introduction of V.A.T. in 1996, but the impending implementation of the G.S.T. is finally sinking in. To see how the business community was gearing up, this morning I visited ground zero: Albert Street.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
Across the country this month, Belizean businesses are offering big discounts to customers in anticipation of the start of the General Sales Tax on July first.

Meena Mahitani, Manager, Romac?s
?They need to come now because the sale is only for what is in the store. Whatever we have here, so if you see it here today, you come tomorrow it might not be here.?

At Romac?s on Albert Street, prices have been cut by fifty percent.

Neena Mahitani, Manager, Romac?s
?After the G.S.T., well as we all know, prices are going to go up so they could get it now, at half the price. It?s on your stock you already have, you?ve already paid duties on this. After that, you have to take it up so we decided to clear as much as we had right now then the loss, after the first of July, won?t be that much.?

Celi Riverol, Supervisor, Mikado?s
?From beginning of June we?ve been having customers coming in but I think there?s a lot of people out there who still need to come in and take advantage of the sale.?

According to supervisor Celi Riverol, Mikado?s sale will also last until the end of month.

Celi Riverol
?At the moment, what we have here is that we are trying to cut down some inventory and it?s twenty percent overall and we have comforters for sale. You buy one get one free.?

Janelle Chanona
?Do you think prices will go up or down??

Celi Riverol
?We?re not sure.?

Amparo Noble, General Manager, Angelus Press
?There are certain customers who fall under the seventy-five thousand dollar threshold, it will be advantageous for them to buy now before July first, because they don?t have to charge the G.S.T. So their prices rolling into G.S.T. would be the same as they charge now.?

Like their colleagues, the managers of the Angelus Press on Queen Street are keeping careful watch over their shelves.

Amparo Noble
?Of big concern to us, are the inventories that we currently have in stock which has the nine percent sales tax and on July first, we will have to charge the customer the additional ten percent or we either just take the cut and give the consumer a discounted price. Besides that we also have to change the prices on all our stock because the G.S.T. asks or requires that show the price including the tax. So we have to change all the prices on the system, all the prices on the shelves.?

Beverly Castillo, Commissioner, Sales Tax
?Stock if we do not give a credit, what will happen is that we will have an initial rise in prices but then the prices should come down.?

According to Commissioner of Sales Tax Beverly Castillo, the issue of double taxation during the transition period will only be temporary.

Beverly Castillo
?We say that we have a market economy and it is how we buy and how we use our money will dictate the prices coming down because in a market economy, the buyers determine the price. We will be doing some studies before G.S.T. and after G.S.T., but really we are not the consumer protection agency. We will work with it and we will show where those prices would have we?ve done the studies, but really as I said, we as consumers will dictate the prices.?

Castillo says the fact that her office is being bombarded with questions about the new tax is a good sign.

Beverly Castillo
?Generally people want to know how it will impact them and that has been what we have been working on, getting the information out, we are currently doing countrywide presentations, we?ve been doing advisory visits so they?ve been personalised and in large groups. And we?re hoping we are getting the message. We?ve had the questions which indicate that they are hearing us. We are getting there, this is the home stretch and we?re working well beyond the call of duty, we will be there the first of July.?

Following the implementation of the G.S.T. in July, Castillo will assume the role of Commissioner of the General Sales Tax.

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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