President of the St. Lucia Manufacturers Association Paula Calderon has warned policymakers behind the Value Added Tax (VAT) implementation that its members may soon be out of business because of the implications of certain policies.
In a statement, Calderon said her association was outraged by the implementation of VAT policies which she claims are crushing the already struggling manufacturing sector.
She said manufacturers had brought some of these concerns to the authorities prior to the October 1 implementation, but instead of being addressed other measures not previously discussed have been introduced.
It is disturbing that certain policy measures are being implemented by customs without any discussion on how it impacts on our members, and I see St.Lucia as a place that I would not recommend people to come in and invest anymore because what is happening now is not investor friendly, Calderon said.
She said that while meetings between the manufacturers association and the ministry of commerce have been cordial, the discord has been with the policymakers at the office of the prime minister.
Calderon said she does not believe that policymakers fully understand what some policies will mean for the countrys manufacturing sector with one of the major concerns being manufacturers paying VAT on imports.
She also took issue with the new VAT procedures which requires exporters to give 48 hours notice to customs and then wait 24 hours before inspection.
Calderon said the policy treats manufacturers like criminals and makes exporting goods much more expensive.
Calderson said that if the situation with customs is not ameliorated VAT implementation is going to be counter-productive putting many businesses out to pasture.
She said that many manufacturers are consumed with dealing with these VAT policy issues as opposed to devoting their time running their businesses.
Calderon, who owns and operates Caribbean Awnings, says she personally feels like closing down her business because she is past the point of frustration.
President of the St.Lucia Small Business Association Flavia Cherry has also warned that she expects several struggling small businesses to go under with the introduction of the VAT.