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Caricom considering lower import tariffs for some goods
Caricom member states have drafted a list of 67 goods for which they want the common external tariff to either be lower or scrapped entirely for two years.
During last week’s meeting of the Trade ministers in Guyana, it was decided to hold national consultations on this list of goods and send the findings to the CARICOM secretariat later this month. The secretariat, in turn, will send the ministers a final draft that can be discussed at the heads of state summit in St. Lucia in July. This was disclosed in a press release by the ministry of trade and industry. Another thorny and controversial issue is the environmental levy some member countries impose on beverage imports, while local producers are exempt. Since 2004 this question is being discussed but up to now, countries including Guyana, Belize and St. Lucia have not scrapped this levy. Dillip Sarjoe, Managing director of Rudisa beverages is now demanding US$ 4 million from Guyana, claiming that he’s paid that amount over the years in the environmental levy. In a final statement, COTED issued strong words demanding the immediate abolition of the level, and even threatened to take this issue to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Bus owners happy with subsidy increase
Private line bus operators, united in the bus owners organization PLO, are delighted with the increased subsidy recently announced by the government.
Bus owners had initially complained that the subsidy funds were not properly controlled, still they’ve decided to accept this increase. However they claim that passengers refuse to pay the SRD 1.25 for the city tariff, claiming that they just don’t have it. The subsidy has been increased from SRD 1.50 per liter diesel to 1.80 per liter; this is also retroactive to February this year. The PLO chairman told The Times daily that after two months, his organization will again approach the government for important discussions. Some still demand an increase in bus fares, but this is unlikely in the near future.