Revenue boss not thrilled by CCJ ruling on Environment Tax
Khurshid Sattaur, Commissioner General of the GRA, says he is now left in a quandary to decide whether he should continuing imposing the tax.
Any bottled beverage imported in the country attracts the Environment Tax of $10.
The Surinamese company Rudisa Beverages and Juices NV , known for its “Thrill” line of beverages, and co-claimant, Caribbean International Distributors Inc (CIDI), had gone to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) argued that the tax amounted to unfair competition, since with the tax they were forced to raise their prices by $10, while no similar tax is imposed on beverages produced locally and sold in non-returnable containers.
As such they argued that the tax must be seen as an import duty and this violates CARICOM’s Treaty of Chaguaramas which guarantees the free movement of goods and prohibits import duties on CARICOM goods.
The Government wanted to reduce that tax by $5 dollars, but to impose a $5 tax on goods imported to produce such beverages locally. That would have leveled the playing field and come into compliance with the rules of trading in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The opposition argued that the tax would be a burden on an already overburdened taxpayers in the business community.
What is more, the opposition argued that the billions of dollars collected since the introduction of the tax has not served its purpose.
Sattaur argued otherwise.
Companies which export their empty bottles can request a refund of the tax from the GRA.