Senator Julian Francis has disputed claims by some individuals here who sell food, regarding significant increase in costs associated with biodegradable food containers, due to the imposition of a ban on Styrofoam food service products.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Senator Francis said he has heard comments by some local restaurant operators who say they were forced to increase the cost of their meals due to the increase cost of the biodegradable food containers.

He explained that contrary to what is being said, unlike in the case of Styrofoam food products which were subjected to a 15% Value Added Tax (VAT) upon importation, the government has zero rated the VAT on biodegradable food containers, in a bid to lower the cost.

“I hear that the biodegradables that would be replacing Styrofoam is going to be more expensive. I’ve read stories in the paper from three suppliers and from three restaurant operators and in some cases you hear that they have raised their plate of food from $10 to $12, and from $16 to $18, because of the cost of the containers.”

“One thing we must bear in mind, the Styrofoam containers attracted the VAT, 15% was charged on Styrofoam containers coming in. The government now to encourage this is zero rating the VAT on the biodegradables…It’s a very fundamental point that has to be made,” Senator Francis explained.

Senator Francis said he has done some research regarding the cost of biodegradable containers and the difference in cost compared to Styrofoam containers is not that significant.

The ban on the importation of Styrofoam was implemented in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as of Monday May 1, 2017 and is part of the government’s thrust to promote a Green Economy and environment.

Although the ban on the importation of Styrofoam comes into effect May 1, 2017, there is a grace period of 90 days to allow for any Styrofoam products ordered before May 1, to be imported.

Businesses selling and utilising Styrofoam food products will have until January 31, 2018 to dispose of any such products they have in their possession.

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