Through the Ministry of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago, a supplementary list of Basic Food Items became VAT-Free (Zero-Rated) from Monday November 01, 2021. This was published as The Value Added Tax (Amendment to Schedule 2) (No. 2) Order, 2021; Legal Notice No. 259, dated October 29th, 2021.
The Consumer Protection and Safety Act Chapter 82:34 of 1985 allows for the monitoring of all goods as it states that the Consumer Affairs Division (CAD) is responsible for keeping under review “the carrying on of commercial activities in Trinidad and Tobago which relate to goods supplied to consumers in Trinidad and Tobago or produced with a view to their being so supplied.” Through this legislative authority, the CAD undertook the collection of prices at thirty-two (32) supermarkets within sixteen (16) areas across Trinidad.
An initial monitoring exercise was conducted between October 30-31, 2021 and then on November 02, 2021. The purpose of this exercise was to determine whether or not supermarkets were in compliance with the aforementioned Legal Notice. During this period, most supermarkets were found to be in a transitional phase with regard to removing V.A.T. on relevant items. Officers of the CAD then revisited these supermarkets between November 06-07, 2021 to further gauge, through the collection and comparison of price data, whether the supermarkets were compliant with Legal Notice 259.
Further, it serves as a reminder to supermarket owners who are not yet fully compliant with Legal Notice 259. The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has noted that while many supermarkets have made the effort to remove V.A.T. from the relevant items, there are many which have still not done so for several items, and even some which have not started the process. The MTI, through the officers of the Consumer Affairs Division, will be continuing to make regular checks at various supermarkets throughout the country to ensure full compliance.