FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson
MP, East Grand Bahama
November 5, 2023
THE BAHAMAS – The PLP government must act immediately and remove VAT from all essential healthy food items. This PLP government must move beyond mere talk and follow the example of governments all over the world that have taken definitive action to combat high food prices and the inflation crisis by removing VAT from essential healthy food.
The Central Bank’s latest report has confirmed that we are still in the midst of the inflation crisis, and food prices continue to rise.
“Average domestic consumer price inflation, as measured by the All Bahamas Retail Price Index, increased marginally to 4.8% during the twelve months to July, from 4.7% in the same period of 2022, reflecting the pass-through effects of higher global oil prices and other costlier imports. Specifically, average costs for recreation & culture and for food & non-alcoholic beverages accelerated to 15.5% and 10.4%, respectively, from 3.7% and 8.0% in the previous year.”
Studies have also shown that an effective way to encourage 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.
- 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 should not be a unilateral decision without consultation.
- The government should use this opportunity to expand the traditional breadbasket list to include healthier food, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Use the examples of other countries that have changed their course and removed VAT from essential food. In Portugal, the government has removed VAT from essential food temporarily to bring relief from high food prices. In Spain and Germany, the government has taken similar measures. In addition, the Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago has done the same.
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.