The popular colloquial term ‘guava season’ has seemingly become a fitting description for many when asked about their current economic position. Increases to food items and just about everything else, has underpinned the worsening hardships and struggles for segments of society.
However, come November 1, with the removal of VAT on certain selected food items, it is expected to bring much-needed relief.
During Monday’s Budget, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the 12.5 per cent tax exemption on items such as cooking oil, cereal, biscuits, canned fish, sausage, ham, pigtail, bottled water, juice, canned vegetables, curry and ketchup will be removed to assist the most vulnerable.
Minister Imbert attributed the climbing food costs to global shortages but projected prices will return to pre-pandemic figures once disruptions to supply chains were resolved.
The announcement of tax exemptions on more food items left many wondering how much they stood to save at the cashier next month, a question Guardian Media set out to answer yesterday.
At a supermarket, the cost of one Canola Oil, one pack of ketchup, one tin of mixed vegetables, one tin of tuna, one bottled water (1.5 litres), a pack of curry, a box of cereal, a tin of sausage, a tin of sardine and one back of biscuits amounted to $147.55.
When cashed without VAT, the same items totalled $130.70, a difference of $16.85.
According to customers, during times described as economically challenging, a little goes a long way.
“I feel that is a good way to save because a lot of people right now are unemployed, a lot of people cannot afford food so this would be a good way to improve the economy and everyone in Trinidad and Tobago,” one customer said.
Another customer said more could have been done.
“I think it’s a good move but it wouldn’t help the baseline enough for people who are really struggling. I don’t think it’ll be much of a help.”
Other customers explained that being able to save a dollar was valuable.
“I think that it is a saving and they should look forward to it. The more you buy the more you save so I think it’s a good idea.
“During these hard times, a little savings go a long way, so I happy to see we saving on VAT and it might help out people who really in need and unemployed right now.”
Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Brian Manning, said a revised listing of all the food items that will be added to the tax exemption list will be made available by November.