Unusual duty waivers granted
(CNS): An open records request has revealed an array of unusual duty waivers granted by government over a period of six months, including T-shirts, souvenirs, guns, heavy equipment, an elevator and even fireworks. The duty waivers have been granted not just to charities or schools but to a number of private companies and retailers, according to the partially redacted list supplied under the freedom of information law following an application by independent MLA Ezzard Miller. The list also shows that 26 of the waivers have been granted directly by the premier. Close to $200,000 of duty was waived, the document shows, between 1 July and 31 December last year.
Miller pointed out that this was just a snapshot of the waivers that appeared to be getting pushed through, not just because of government policy or at the discretion of the customs department, but also at the request of the premier. The independent member questioned the validity of waivers, at least on some of the items, at a time when the public finances are facing such dire consequences that government has been unable to produce a budget for the next financial year.
“I can’t see why we would be giving duty waivers on imported fireworks,” Miller said as he noted a more than $7,000 waiver for Cayman Firepower. “I find it incredible that, at a time when government is so short of revenue, it can give away so many duty waivers, some of which are for significant amounts of money.”
The MLA also noted that, according to the Public Management and Finance Law, McKeeva Bush can only give the duty waivers in his position as finance minister and not as the country’s premier.
Miller said that while they may be one and the same person, it was important to remember that the offices are two separate and very different entities in the law.
He also raised concerns that not all of the names on the request had been revealed, so the public could not be sure exactly who or what was in receipt of the waivers, in particular those given by the premier, and why.
Many of the waivers are given as part of government policy, such as solar and other eco-friendly equipment. Some on the list also cover equipment being bought by government itself or statutory authorities and government owned companies, but a considerable number of the items on the list have been waived without an obvious explanation.
Given that the list only covered one sixth month period, Miller said that considerable revenue could have been lost over this financial year if similar waivers were given over the last six months.
|Duty Waivers.pdf||337.33 KB|
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