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Christmas Barrels Concession Begins December 1st

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Monday, November 21, 2005 - The Cabinet of Ministers has once again approved the annual concessions on barrels of gift items imported by St. Lucians over the holiday season.

This concession, which assists persons from all over St. Lucia receiving gift items from abroad during a specified period, is granted annually by the Government.

Under the programme, which began for Christmas 1997, each household is allowed a maximum of two barrels containing personal effects. The goods must have a maximum value of EC $1,500, but must not include electronic items or goods for commercial purposes.

Persons to whom the barrels are consigned pay only a Service Charge and an Environmental Tax on the imported gift items.

The concessions this year will begin on December 1st, and will continue until January 15, 2006.

This programme, which was initiated soon after the Labour Administration took office, has benefited thousands of St. Lucians in the eight years of its existence.

With relatives and friends here released of the cost of the full range of Customs & Excise charges, those abroad have looked forward every year to being able to send more gift items than they normally would have.

Critics of the programme in the private sector have described it as an annual drain on the islandís revenues and have called for it to be scrapped.

But while official sources confirm there have been instances of attempts to import commercial goods under the programme, they say that greater scrutiny by Customs Officers and improved processing procedures have allowed the programme to each year benefit more of the persons it was intended for.

Cabinet sources indicate that the unanimous view among Ministers is that the programme should be allowed to continue, rather than allow the transgressions of a few to jeopardise or remove the benefits of the majority of those who need it most..

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