Duty under review as gov’t faces 25% revenue loss

| 08/07/2020 | 56 Comments
Cayman News Service
Cayman Islands customs officer

(CNS): The finance minister has revealed that government is planning to make amendments to the Customs Tariff Law and will also consider a motion put before the Legislative Assembly seeking the removal of duty on medical supplies as part of that review. But Roy McTaggart warned that any duty reductions are unlikely to happen while government faces a loss of some 25% of its regular revenue.

Two private members’ motions filed in the LA for debate last week by Independent MLA Ezzard Miller (NS) were both accepted by government when they were presented by opposition member Chris Saunders (BTW), as he stood in for Miller who was absent due to a family bereavement.

The first motion was to address the problem encountered by merchants, retailers and customers when they return goods overseas purchased under warranty for repair or replacement and have to pay duty on the returned items and freight costs, effectively paying twice for the same thing. Government accepted the motion and said it would address the issue.

The second was asking for the removal of duty from medical supplies, which again government accepted but made it clear that there were no guarantees, given the current circumstances and the precarious position of the public finances, that the removal would happen anytime soon.

McTaggart told the Legislative Assembly that although the motion was one that government “can and will accept”, the timing of any duty reduction would be contingent on the recovery of the country’s finances.

“We are in a very severe time for reduced economic activity, resulting in about a 20 to 25 percent shortfall in government revenues. On a personal note, I would like to see government revenue streams restored to much healthier… amounts before we actually implement such a recommendation,” he said.

The minister added that if it had come six months ago, it would have been readily accepted, but now he felt it was necessary to caution about its implementation when the time is right.

Saunders, who wrapped up the presentation of the motion for Miller, said it was an important motion in such times. Thanking government for accepting it, he said he recognised that “we are in trying times”, but while government finances are challenging, the motion was timely because people are under a lot of stress and there is a need to support those with health problems.

Saunders also urged government to ask the Economics and Statistics Office to track the impact and ensure that the customs savings are passed on to the customers.


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Category: Laws, Politics

Comments (56)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I would love to pay some duty and put some money in government coffers, but customs won’t clear my perfectly legitimate package!!!

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  2. Anonymous says:

    I would have thought the fact that our politicians and civil servants can’t currently travel would have more than offset a 25% drop in income….

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah but now a whole pile are working from home so youre gonna see expenditures for office supplies, IT services etc about to triple! You dont think they all now need a laptop, printer, scanner, millions of pens, hoards of paper, cartridges etc EACH? And FYI the expenditure of this category was second to civil service salaries in govts 2020 budget!

  3. NO Exemptions & Privileges and Special Favors says:

    Stop exemptions for politicians and their political supporters and churches and all the bigshots and law firms that should increase revenues to 36%

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  4. Anonymous says:

    free solutions for cig:
    cut civil service numbers or pay by 10%…. or implement recommendations of e&y or miller shaw reports.
    bring in uber/lyft
    legalise casinos/gambling… 18 month trial if nessecary
    legalise sunday trading
    legalise ganja for tourist consumption…when tourists return
    let bars open past midnight on saturday
    stop all cig capital expenditure for 2 years

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    • Anonymous says:

      YES!!! You got my vote!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Also defund the NAU.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I downvoted you because I’ve been working my ass off as a civil servant contrary to popular belief, but I fully agree that there’s many economic benefits to legalising cannabis so that tax revenue can be generated on licenses to grow and sales. Charge tourists double the sales tax as locals like at botanic park.

      I used to fly out regularly to Denver or Canada – both places enjoy my tax revenue while we here throw money at drug boats while people grow the plant on island, hidden away on farms and inside.

      If you’re against legal weed, please ponder below:

      The plant is illegal here under a schedule that says “high abuse, no medical benefits” yet we prescribe it medically?

      We can import the medical oil, but can’t grow the plant and extract the medicine ourselves?

      Tobacco laced with nicotine is fine on government property and time, but I can’t brew weed tea after work in my house?

      “you shouldn’t need weed to destress, go for a walk”, but it’s ok for you to need 3 cups of coffee to function at work?

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    • Anonymous says:

      And stop giving all the
      millionaire and billionare developers concessions on infrastructure and low cost housing fees!!! Their developments are WHY we need these funds.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    when expenses excede income = recession
    25% reduction in income = depression

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    • Anonymous says:

      Recession is defined as two continuous quarters of gdp decline…depression is four. Government revenues by itself is not an indicator of much without more information to establish trends in all aspects of the economy. We still don’t know how many people have left.

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  6. Small Business says:

    It is insane how long you have to wait for customs to clear a shipment. It used to be hours, now it is weeks, or months. The system is completely f-d. It is unacceptable, and highly detrimental to business. I have waited up to 60 days for a totally clean shipment to clear.
    Our Government needs to be held accountable for their actions.

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    • Anonymous says:

      True. Last year I had to wait 6 weeks for customs to clear a number of amazon orders. Since then I only bring things in when I travel; cig revenue zero. Whoever runs customs needs replacing.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Third world customs. Still waiting for a TV that came in before covid to clear. Everyone asks for accountability but in a third world country you will never have that. As long as Cayman islands are Caymanian run corruption, incompetence, and lack of empathy will be the norm. Hopefully the UK will take over before they completely bankrupt this island. We will see. They owe more than their children and their children’s children can ever pay back, They have much less coming in but they will continue to spend like there is no tomorrow on themselves.

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      • Anonymous says:

        ” As long as Cayman islands are Caymanian run corruption, incompetence, and lack of empathy will be the norm.”

        Those things are present everywhere. My final year living in London, I could not get any electricity supplier to say my meter was theirs. I even had one come out whose representative said ‘well, it’s definitely here, you’re definitely getting power as you know, but it’s nothing to do with us’. I got free electricity for a year. Here, a British person would call that maladministration, mismanagement, laziness, etc. if it came out in an official report. In the UK that same person would say ‘what a bit of luck that is! Let’s hope we never get anything in the mail about it. Turn up the the heating and let’s go down the pub to celebrate!’

        There is PLENTY of corruption, incompetence, and lack of empathy to go around. Sorry about your TV. Maybe if you had integrated into our society better, you might know someone you could call to get it released. If you haven’t learnt yet to have an inside man at every major institution you need to deal with, then you aren’t learning how to get by in Cayman. You think people don’t get or give favours wherever you’re from (I assume the UK with your categorical admonishment of Caymanians)? You think things run like clockwork everywhere else? You think that, if ‘your kind’ was in charge instead of us, you wouldn’t be giving each other favours and cocking things up?

        Let me see, let’s find a news story from the UK about a bureaucratic system getting backed up…

        Never mind, too many to choose. Google “uk backlog” and you will get 16,700,000 results.

        I hate to say this but…you are welcome to leave you know. If you feel as strongly as you suggest, perhaps you should, for your own health. Those of us who are adapted by one means or another to life in Cayman will continue to enjoy it. I’m Caymanian and I’ve had to wait on parcels far longer than I’m used to. If COVID hasn’t taught you patience you will never learn it.

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        • Anonymous says:

          I have also lived many other places than just Cayman. Some very small island communities in Micronesia, a few different places in the States and a stint in Germany and I have never seen the amount of Corruption and incompetence in any of them. The fact that you think I need to make friends to get my TV through customs says a lot about this culture here and how you have made it work for you .Brother getting all your info about other places from the news just shows how much you really don’t know. And lastly if you have to go with the “if you don’t like it here than you can leave now just shows that this island is a great home for ignorants as well as the educated.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Agree. I lived and worked in many countries including Bermuda.
            Post service and public transportation are great in Bermuda. There were no delays whatsoever receiving a package. I remember my laptop died and a friend shipped me one from states. It arrived in 5 days, I went to the post office, paid a duty calculated by the post office staff and got it in less than 20 min.

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            • Anonymous says:

              Great – I assume you have no problem with 10% payroll tax to provide that quick service to you then. Or would you rather have the 10% allowing you to buy the item in the first place, then wait longer to get it? The choice is yours…

          • Anonymous says:

            First of all, “very small island communities” have it the way Cayman used to – the way everyone misses, when the sheer small volume of everything that was done meant it took no time at all, and there was little to be corrupt about because nothing was happening. Give those communities each a GDP of over US$5bn and bring their populations up to ours. In particular, give them one generation, maybe one and a half for all that change to take place in. See how they do. Right now they probably can’t even receive mail at all, let alone have to wait longer for it than normal.

            Secondly, the States have PLENTY of corruption. Watch a documentary or two – whole industries, whole states, whole systems are completely broken. Some are even suggesting the country itself is in decline on its way to being a failed state.

            As for Germany, efficiency is their national trait. It’s one of the only ones they’ve got. They certainly don’t have a climate that might suggest life at a slower pace is appropriate. And there is that small matter of them still paying down the moral debt for what they did 80 years ago by keeping a low-ish profile and doing their best to run themselves internally as best they can, since their actions/influence are not welcome outside the EU’s borders. So Germans are efficient and bears crap in the woods – what else you got.

            I don’t think you need to make friends to get your TV through Customs. I don’t think you should have to do that. I want what everyone, expat or Caymanian, wants – professional, efficient service, all the time, no matter who you are, or what else is happening in the world. My point is, the world is not full of ideals – it’s full of reality, and right now, it would help you if you knew someone in Customs, because there’s a backlog. But you’re obviously an expat who comes here, does not integrate, does not pay attention to how to make life easier, and then complains complains complains about huffing and puffing standing at the counter. Maybe next time import your TV through a freight-forwarder and skip the line, like many of us Caymanians do, because we know full well our government is largely an employer of last resort and Customs and the Postal Administration are typical refuges for those who can’t work anywhere else. We don’t want to stand in the queue any more than you – so we don’t. And if we have to, we have someone to call to say ‘that queue is killing me, can you help me out?’ Don’t blame your lack of resourcefulness on us.

            I read for 3-6 hours per day, news and non-fiction only, and from enough countries and places along the political spectrum to have well-informed views about whatever I decide to speak about. In this instance I had no intention of making my argument in any slower, more pointed way to you after what you said about Caymanians, of which I am one.

            Lastly, I have NEVER said to someone before ‘if you don’t like it, you can leave’. You are literally the first person I’ve said a version of that to, and the only reason I did, is because what you’re asking for – control of Cayman by someone other than us – you will never get. So if it’s going to bother you forever that we’re in charge, then you should leave. You actually should leave, or you’ll just continue to get more and more upset that ‘these damn Caymanians blah blah blah’.

            Don’t conflate the issues – I’m not saying go home if you don’t like waiting for your TV (who does?) I’m not saying there’s no corruption here (in fact I’m high enough placed in this particular society to tell you it is seriously rampant). What I am saying to you is, you seem to have condemned this place and its people, and if you aren’t just ranting and actually believe what you say, then you will be happier living somewhere else. So, you know…maybe do that (after you get your TV).

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            • Anonymous says:

              Interesting view points. Lots of assumptions though. Especially with the “integration” thing. Would a day spent with a collection jar to benefit hospice count? And another to feed a Cayman future? Would beach clean-ups count? Would spending thousands in local stores count? What one has to do to integrate? Share a bottle of vodka?

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              • Anonymous says:

                It does not bother me that Caymanians are in charge. It does bother me that they are so bad at it. Costumer service is not a cultural thing here. In all the other countries and islands I have lived in the services are functional. Here they are not unless you know someone. I have not condemned this place. The island is nice and I will be back for it. The people running things not so much. Don’t get me wrong. I have met and made friends with many Caymanians and most of them agree with me.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Maybe we should stop giving massive duty concessions to developers. they take advantage of the concessions to make millions. While the people pay for it. We do not need to be giving them millions of dollars worth of concessions so they can spend heir savings buying our elected officials.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    25% revenue loss? You ain’t seen nuttin yet!

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Oh no this means Permit/PR SALE!! Get your financial service work permits here…5 for the price of 3…no strings…file a piece of paper with the names and pay your $30k! PR at the border $15k…Status free but you’re better off with out it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Lower PR eligibility to six years. Quick injection of cash!

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    • Occam's Razor says:

      Find 100 people willing to pay $2.5 million each for a passport (perhaps people with connections to Cayman/already living here) and that is $250 million dollars right there. And those people will create jobs in Cayman, too. And no vexing over the tax system, etc. Keep it simple.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Don’t let that razor cut you. We cannot give passports because we do not issue passports. BOTC passports are issued by the UK – not Cayman. In any event, Cayman passports give no right to live in or even travel to Cayman.

        PR is already for sale. $2 million investment and 100K fee.

        • Anonymous says:

          Ouch! Fair point. Yet with that PR you then have to wait years and have to remain on the island for a supramajority of time to get status or citizenship. There has to be a way to put someone more quickly on a path to a passport more easily. Certainly Caymanian status (which is in the control of the Cayman government) could be more easily granted for megabucks. Regarding the passport and rights attached to it, it would be quite a lawsuit if someone with a Cayman BOTC passport was actually denied the ability to live and/or work here especially if it was the person’s only passport. Also, denying someone with a passport the right to own a local business would make for an interesting case.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    If there has ever been a time, it is now. Politicians take a temporary pay cut. MAKE HISTORY!!!!

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  11. Anonymous says:

    No worries. All we have to do is raise the quarantine fees.

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    • Anonymous says:

      For a start, anyone that needs to quarantine as consequence of voluntary travel should have to pay – including Caymanians.

      No, burying a close relative or needing medical attention overseas are not voluntary. “Summering in Europe” is.

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      • Anonymous says:

        What about visiting a very ill mother who may not be here much longer? Or a divorced father spending time with his kids abroad? Or putting one’s kids in school? There are more necessities in life than death and medical attention. None of which can be classified as summering anywhere.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You are simply inhumane. I’m aware of three Caymanian kids who have no seen their non-Caymanian father since Christmas. He cannot visit. Lucky for the kids the U.K. has a civilized policy allowing 75 countries, including Cayman, to fly into the U.K. But according to you, should these children return to Cayman, they should pay to quarantine rather than go home to their mother. The civilized and humane thing to do would be to allow them to test, quarantine at home, monitor and test. These are children. What message are you sending? Hey 10 year old, we assume you are filthy disease ridden scoundrel and will infect many of us who will then die. Except, world wide, the facts don’t support the accusation.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Umm, the father can visit (unless he is a criminal) and there is no reason Cayman taxpayers should be paying for visits in the circumstances you describe. This country is running out of money. We need to do things to protect the governments shrinking resources. And self isolation has been proved not to be effective. Any doubts, ask New Zealand.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    You mean we need to have economic activity to generate revenue? Who knew? Will that affect my bonus?

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Hey guys. What are you doing to cut expenditure?

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Nail in the coffin!
    If that’s guess up process will increase not ONLY due to the duty increase. Local business will not have a chance. I’ll import EVERYTHING, including my toilet paper.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    They’re all crooks filling their own pockets while they leave their constituents holding the proverbial stick. And guess where they like shoving that stick. The voting people need to quickly realise that an uneducated vote for short term gain does more damage to their own livelihood in the long run. You really think that CIG will curtail its reckless spending in the face of austerity? Think again, the word duty will rapidly morph into taxation if this maladministration keeps up. Mark my words, it’s coming.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Yet Dart and all the friends of government with big money in construction getting breaks on fees. Ask Davenport and Wellon

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yep! It’s crazy how the middle class gets stomped on and the lower class is gum on their shoe already.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If your blaming Dart you are wasting your efforts. CIG is the problem. Unless you work for them and are getting paid for your vote. When their coffers are empty who will feed you then?

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    • Anonymous says:

      You’re not wrong…but…every space dart leases out and everything that the others build and sell has stamp duty paid on on it. Furthermore if dart (or flowers) has to pay higher prices for construction because of duty then rents would be higher to compensate and tenants would pay staff less, hire less staff and those folks will have less to spend on local goods which all have duty paid on them. It would be interesting if someone could do the actual math because frankly it’s a complicated relationship but a duty concession on construction usually is going to come back in another way. And don’t think it’s just the big bad dart that gets them by the way.

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  17. Res Ipsa Loquitur says:

    This UNITY government particularly the Premier, Deputy Premier, Minister Hew and the Cabinet need to stop giving concessions, rebates, cutting secret deals and signing development agreements with wealthy developers and looking out for financiers which deprives the public purse of current and future revenues.

    The Minister of Planning admitted In the LA last week that all development deals will remain secret on his watch. This is evidence that this government do not believe in accountability and transparency. Plus they have promises they need to keep to those that are their partners, controllers and donors.

    Every time they give away potential earnings thru concessions the public must make up this short fall and the costs of living and costs of doing business increases the rest of us.

    https://caymannewsservice.com/2020/06/development-deals-to-remain-secret/

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    • Anonymous says:

      Dart are in breach of NRA deal and were supposed to be fined $10k per day for the old Hyatt eyesore. PLA then green lights tunnels to nowhere for plans that haven’t been submitted and we are told to tighten our belts!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Deals are fine if they’re good deals and they’re transparent and made public…and stuck to. Otherwise as you’ve said…no more.

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