FRIDAY, JAN. 20: The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce’s Retail Division seeks to clarify its position regarding the proposed increase on personal import duties.

The Chamber’s Retail Division is on record as having reached out to the Ministry of Finance, and in particular the Premier, in 2010 and again in 2011, for tax relief and other fiscal support to keep their doors open.

Since that time the Retail Division of The Chamber of Commerce has through its membership, continued to lobby Government for an across the board, standardized duty rate of 25% for the importation of all personal goods, whether they are imported through the airport, the post office, a local courier, shipping agent or consolidator.

In making the announcement Chamber EVP Joanne MacPhee explained further; “The Chamber’s Retail Division is supportive of a move to standardize the import duty charged on personal goods.  Bermuda’s retail industry is in crisis and like many of our divisions they do need Government’s support if they are to survive in this harsh economic climate. The EEZ and newly branded BEDC are alongside others, doing their part to support local commerce, and we applaud them for that.

We all know there are less people in Bermuda now then there was three years ago, and those who are here are spending less and shopping more online.  This is all having a very direct and negative impact on local commerce, so yes something has to give if local retailers are to survive. 

What that might look like has yet to be agreed. Perhaps this is the time to step back and look at the bigger picture and consider whether or not there is a viable alternative to taxation through import duties.”  

As part of its ongoing commitment to local commerce, The Chamber will be hosting an economics panel on Wednesday, January 25th, at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, where no doubt this and other issues facing the local economy will be discussed.