Starting January, the quota for Duty Free goods will be discontinued for those who were entitled so far.
Over 1,226 individuals were entitled to and availed of the quota so far. This enabled those with quota to buy high quality goods like wine, whiskey, cosmetics as well as other non-consumable products free of taxes from the identified retail outlets.
However, the Cabinet arrived at the decision after the review of the practice showed that it not just hit redundancy but outlived its intended purpose.
The Duty Free quota was introduced in 1989 to provide access to consumer goods that originated from advanced countries, support tourism sector, operate as an enterprise on a commercial basis, provide a source of foreign exchange and generate revenue to the government.
However, over the years, memberships had proliferated leading to loss of revenue and misuse. According to the finance ministry, in 2021 alone, Nu 108.7 million was forgone in taxes from the Duty Free entitlement. Also, with the steady growth of economy, similar products are now adequately available in the market.
As we strive to bring about reform driven by accountability and transparency, and as we introduce clean wage system, we are convinced that such perks have lost relevance. Such steps, though small, will go a long way in professionalising the processes and bring about change that we aspire.
Meanwhile, the Duty Free quota will be extended only to diplomats in accordance with the obligation under relevant international laws, conventions and covenants ratified by the Parliament.