Sat | May 25, 2019

St Vincent government defends tax concessions to Jamaican company

Published:Monday | May 6, 2019 | 10:26 AM
CMC photo

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – The St Vincent and the Grenadines government has defended the decision to grant a 15-year tax break and other concessions to Jamaica-based firm, Rainforest Seafood SVG Ltd, that has promised to invest EC$10 million in a fish processing facility in the country.

“I just want to say that almost all the concessions given to Rainforest Seafoods are concessions given to manufacturers in this country and to hoteliers, people who invest,” Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said.

 “Well, if you bring that in a hotel, you get a similar length of concession. You also get for hoteliers and manufacturers – and these people we must remember, are a packaging entity. Cleaning and packaging, in other words, they are taking the raw materials and putting it together in a way for the market. And they’re bringing with them expertise and they are bringing with them also markets,” he told radio listeners.’

Gonsalves said that there were persons commenting on the initiative because his administration had not approved their application to operate the existing fisheries facility at Calliaqua, which is being administered by a fisheries cooperative.

He said that Rainforest Seafoods has similar businesses in other parts of the region, adding “a manufacturing entity is coming in; they get the raw materials for the building duty free. The same thing with an hotelier.”

A November14, 2018 Cabinet memo obtained by the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) shows that the government has agreed that no taxes or withholding of any kind whatsoever will be levied on Rainforest Seafoods’ income, profits and capital gains for 15 years, which begins when the company informs the government in writing of the commencement of its commercial operation.

The memo notes that no customs duties, value-added taxes or duties will be imposed on any building, materials and finishing, fixtures, fittings, plant, machinery, equipment, tools, spare parts, and construction equipment imported during the construction phase of the project.

The company will receive duty-free concessions on the importation of two freezer trucks, three pickups, two freezer forks, two outside forks, three electrical pallet jacks, two reefer containers for transporting products to the airport, and boat engines for two boats mentioned.

Rainforest Seafoods will also receive duty-free concessions on the importation of one tractor head, two chassis, and two boats to be used for the transporting product and fishermen’s supplies between the islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines only.

Gonsalves said that Rainforest Seafoods, by virtue of the agreement, are not allowed to fish in St Vincent and the Grenadines, adding that the boats on which the company is getting the concessions are to transport seafood from one part of the country to the next.

He said he is aware that a small group had been interested in getting the Calliaqua Fisheries Cooperative facility and, for various reasons did not get it.

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