Opposition urges government to remove VAT from essential healthy foods

Opposition urges government to remove VAT from essential healthy foods

NASSAU, BAHAMAS- The Opposition is urging the government to take definitive action to combat high food prices and the inflation crisis by removing the Value-Added tax (VAT) from essential healthy foods.

Shadow Finance Minister Kwasi  Thompson in a statement noted that the Central Bank’s latest report has confirmed that the country is still in an inflation crisis and food prices continue to rise.

Thompson noted that studies have shown that an effective way of encouraging healthy eating is by making healthy food cheaper.

“The government continues to ignore one step that would not only help the poor but also encourage healthy eating. The government unfortunately believes that they can tax their way to healthy eating which harms the poor and does nothing to bring relief from the rising costs of food,” said Thompson.

He further argued that the government must take a collaborative approach with major food stores and listen to businesses and consumers to come up with a VAT-free list of essential healthy food. This he said should not be a unilateral decision without consultation.

He argued that the government should use this opportunity to expand the traditional breadbasket list to include healthier food, such as fruits and vegetables.

Thompson further noted that in Portugal, the government has removed VAT from essential food temporarily to bring relief from high food prices. The governments of Spain and Germany have taken similar measures in addition to Trinidad and Tobago.

“The PLP Government must be concerned and take action to mitigate the impact of food price increases on all consumers, particularly, the vulnerable. We again demand the government cease its stubbornness and mitigate the impact of rising food prices by immediately removing VAT from essential healthy food items, such as fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods,” said Thompson.