No VAT ‘holiday’ makes life harder for building suppliers

By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

A building materials supplier yesterday voiced hope that this year may see another temporary VAT ‘holiday’ so persons can stock up on hurricane supplies even though the Davis administration has given no hint it will reinstate the practice.

Constance McKinney, chief financial officer at Cartwright’s Building Supplies, told Tribune Business that despite possessing “limited supplies” the distributor is staging a 20 percent-off sale to ensure customers can buy hurricane supplies at a cheaper price.

But, with no VAT holiday, it will be difficult to pass any more savings to consumers.

She said: “It’s always difficult to pass on any savings to the customer. But if the Government were to say go ahead, like you would normally do in the past, because there was a VAT holiday, that was easier to work with. Hopefully they would review it before everything gets serious, but as I said we do have a 20 percent sale on flashlights and things like that now.”

The Minnis administration last year temporarily eliminated VAT on specific hurricane supplies to enable Bahamians to stock-up prior before peak storm season. Ms McKinney said: “We have stuff this year. Things are coming in daily and it is ongoing, so we may sell out of stuff, but we continually get things coming in.”

Christopher Lleida, Premier Importers’ chief executive, said the building materials supplier is well-stocked for hurricane season but remains concerned about his Abaco location’s ability to keep up with demand.

“It’s busy,” he added. “We’re trying to get stabilised and get back to form. What I understand from our management team up there is that the challenge for everybody is housing, and if you can find it it is expensive.

“Contractors have had to be creative and imaginative. Even government employees are in a trailer park at the government centre.”

Abaco still enjoys the tax breaks and other benefits conferred by its Special Economic Recovery Zone (SERZ) status, which lasts until end-November, and is designed to speed-up post-Dorian reconstruction by cutting the associated costs.”

Mr Lleida added: “It’s helpful with the SERZ, but then I guess it is in the Government’s interest to get Abaco back up and running as quickly as possible to get that revenue stream back online.”