St Lucia began its barrel concessions five months early as the Government moves to ease the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on its most vulnerable citizens.
The barrel concessions usually kick-start the festive season in November each year, but began on Tuesday, June 2 when the bill was passed by the House of Assembly.
The measure is part of the country’s Social Stabilization Plan, a response the COVID-19 crisis, and will see St Lucians receive duty-free barrels for the next eight months, ending January 31, 2021.
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet on Tuesday told Parliament, the initial objective of the concession was to help the needy and underprivileged during Christmas.
“I am certain that our people will be better able to cope through this crisis if financial relief is provided to them in the form of concessions on barrels brought into the country during the stated period.”– Prime Minister Allen Chastanet
However, with the impact of the virus, the Government saw fit to move the start date forward. “The barrel concession will provide much-needed relief to the poor, the vulnerable, and the thousands of Saint Lucians who have lost their jobs or source of income,” Chastanet said.
Despite the new start, the usual restriction of two barrels per household will apply. Additionally, people will be required to pay the requisite taxes, duties and charges on non-provisional items like electronics and commercial goods.
Chastanet said, “Despite the challenges faced by many all over the world, there is still the interest by many in our own Diaspora and beyond to assist their family members and friends in this way.
“I am certain that our people will be better able to cope through this crisis if financial relief is provided to them in the form of concessions on barrels brought into the country during the stated period. This relief measure will allow thousands of Saint Lucians to obtain much-needed supplies from their relatives and friends abroad, particularly during this difficult time.”
The Social Stabilization Plan was announced by Chastanet during an address to the nation on April 8 and will see the Government implement several programmes and measures to aid citizens affected by the social and economic impact of the on-going pandemic.