Business community talks VAT!

The St Lucia Chamber of Commerce (SLCC), on Thursday this week, held what it called a “VAT Readiness Seminar” for the business community at the Coco Palm Resort. Over thirty representatives from private businesses were present as the Chamber presented a ‘crash course’ in understanding the basics of VAT and how it can be implemented successfully.
Programme Manager of the St Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Karen Fowell says the Chamber remains committed in ensuring that the business community and the private sector is prepared for VAT implementation. She adds that the seminar is just one of their many activities of the Chamber in preparing all concerned within the business and private sectors as the implementation date fast approaches.
“We have received a thorough understanding of some of the issues which is concerned with the VAT act and the transaction issues, risk issues in terms of VAT readiness,” said Fowell.
According to Fowell, the seminar is a one-off event, however, the Chamber did schedule private consultations yesterday with a few firms.
“We will be discussing the general transaction issues on Thursday, review some of the Act, some of the concerns such as how you classify, exempt and identify zero rated items. Also, how you can account for these items.
“Critical for us today is to ensure that the private sector is ready in terms of the audit process to prepare for an efficient audit to make the VAT implementation very smooth and efficient for the business community.”
Fowell says the Chamber partnered with Pricewaterhouse Coopers who brought in some of their top experts from Canada and the Region under the leadership of Mr Richard Peterkin.
She says these experts are well equipped and possess enough skills and experience to provide assistance to the business community.
“Having gone through the Bill this week and some of the issues that firms are concerned with –the Bill in itself is not adequate to guide some of the transaction issues that are coming up now.
“In fact, there seems to be a somewhat of a void and there is still some discussion that the allowance need for bad debt which needs to be reviewed in the Bill and a number of areas have not been fine tuned.
“In terms of readiness, until that Bill can be finalized and complete then we can say we will have full readiness,” said Fowell.
Members of the business community were eagerly asking questions in what appeared to be a very informative seminar. The jury is still out on whether the private sector is receiving all the information they need on the VAT issue. (More on this in the Wednesday STAR).
VAT is scheduled to be implemented on October 1st—a date revised by Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony from his initial announcement of September 1st.

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