Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Juice hike

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After an anxious six-week wait for the popular Jubilee Orange beverage to be released from the Bridgetown Port, consumers will eventually pay more for it. 
In a Press statement yesterday, SBI, the sole distributor of the juice brand, said while the price of two other products Pineapple and Island Punch, would remain the same “prices increases will now have to be applied” to the Jubilee Orange. 
And businessman Ralph White, who forcefully called on Minister of Commerce and Trade Senator Haynesley Benn on Wednesday night for action on the Customs reclassification that was holding up the juice, said the increase was a greater burden on companies.
Reclassified
SBI explained that in the early 1990s Jubilee was classified under the tariff heading 21.07.05 and when that changed Jubilee was cleared under 21.06.90.90
“In early January, Customs made a determination that the product should now be classified under tariff heading 20.09 (juices).  SBI disagrees with this position.  
“We assert that the product is not a juice but is an artificially flavoured base and we await the official position of the Classification Committee . . . In order to satisfy our many customers SBI has decided to clear all Jubilee products under 20.09 as instructed by Customs.
“The result is that the price of the Pineapple and Island Punch will remain unchanged. However, Jubilee Orange will now attract a duty rate of 40 per cent instead of 20 per cent and price increases will now have to be applied,” SBI stated.
The company took issue with Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s claim in yesterday’s WEEKEND NATION that it was sent a letter stating it was free to take the goods from the port at the duty demanded by Customs and then enforce a dispute resolution process. 
“To date no letter has been received as reported in the NATION newspaper of February 25, the release stated.
Meanwhile, White, managing director of the tourist attraction Island Safari, said he was not expecting the reclassification and would take up the increased cost with the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Two-year contract
“I did not expect this. I thought given the circumstances of the current economic climate it would have remained at the 20 per cent. We already had an increase pertaining to the VAT and companies have tried to trim where they can,” White said.
He explained that he was already locked into two-year contracts with cruise liners and could not seek to pass on the increase there. 
“While I understand SBI is going to have to do what it has to do . . . My rates are already set for two years. I really would have thought given the importance of tourism to the economy and the GDP it would have been left at 20 per cent.”

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