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Commerce Minister Sheds Light on Compulsory Standards Compliance

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Monday, November 03, 2003 - Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs Honourable Phillip J. Pierre, has been shedding light on a Compulsory Standards and Compliance Programme instituted by the St. Lucia Bureau of Standards (SLBS).

Minister Pierre, who also holds the portfolio for Investment and Tourism, says following much consultation with the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture, it was agreed that the programme would get off the ground from January 1st of this year. He says under the programme, importers have been paying a flat user fee per container or entry, and not a tax as has been alluded to in certain quarters.

On Customs entries below a CIF value of $5000, the fee will be $25 per customs entry. For entries above $5000, it will be $50 per entry. That fee is to cover the cost of the Compulsory Standards Compliance Programme, said Minister Pierre. The minister noted that a programme like that is important for St. Lucia, in that the Bureau ensures that the goods consumed by St. Lucians are not substandard and that they meet the required international standards. That really is the situation and its unfair to imply that its another tax when it is actually a user fee for a Compulsory Standards Compliance Programme.

The Compulsory Standards Compliance Programme forms part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) benchmark practices for international trade. Other regional states which have instituted the programme thus far include Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada. The programme is reported to have reaped great rewards for both St. Lucian businessmen and consumers in general.

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