There might be need to re-engage with stakeholders  

It appears government’s decision to ensure the commencement of its tax stamp policy on March 1st this year may hit a snag, because some importers, exporters and beverage manufacturers are up in arms about implementation of the policy.

The manufacturers and importers say in principle, though, they are not against the tax stamp, but rather have an issue with the mode of application.

The stamp tax policy was passed into law in 2013, Parliament having ratified an agreement with an American company for the supply of tax stamps and other services to track excisable goods sold in the country.

However, the industry players argue that affixing the stamps in the manner prescribed is impracticable; but the company contracted claims is trials were successful. Well, it appears the dispute needs to be resolved amicably between the parties for a smooth roll-out of the policy.

It is gratifying that the main bone of contention is not the policy per se, but its mode of implementation.  Therefore, our suggestion to the feuding parties is to gather around the table and see what is practicable in the view of industry, so that the policy will reap the benefits intended by issuance of the tax stamp.

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Further trials are being called for by industry to test the application’s efficacy, but the contacting company wants the companies to pay US$10,000 to cover costs since it is not in a position to absorb the cost again. This is also a bone of contention between the company contracted and local manufacturers and importers that needs to be resolved in a manner that has the good faith of all concerned.

Therefore, with all these concerns being raised at the eleventh hour, we believe it would be prudent to postpone implementation of the tax stamp until all outstanding matters are resolved – so that its implementation will be smooth and devoid of any malice.

The Food and Beverage Association (FABAG), GUTA, GIFF and Importers and Exporters Association are all important players in our national life, and it would be proper for all these stakeholders to be re-engaged so that the various concerns are articulated and resolved in a participatory manner to the satisfaction of all concerned.

Thus, we believe the March 1st deadline is not practicable since there are grievances that need to be resolved by the industry players, and until they are resolved to the satisfaction of all it would be counterproductive to enforce same.

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