By Davion Smith, BVI News Journalist
Some car dealerships in the British Virgin Islands may be placed under investigation in light of reports that they have been breaking the law.
Following government’s decision to place a three-month Customs duty waiver on the importation of vehicles, local car dealerships are being accused of shipping in new vehicles tax-free and reselling them with duties included in the price.
A senior-level officer in the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force made the disclosure during a community forum for residents of the Seventh and Eighth electoral districts last evening.
The cop said he experienced the unscrupulous practice firsthand.
“A number of persons in my organization has had the same problem. I’ve been to two dealers today and the price of the vehicle now is the price of the vehicle when duty was incorporated,” the law enforcer said.
The officer said car dealerships are claiming that the vehicles being sold with customs duties included in the price were the ones brought into the territory before the hurricanes.
The cop however said he uncovered that these local car dealers were lying.
“I went to the Comptroller of Customs [Wade Smith]… and the Comptroller of Customs could confirm these vehicles landed duty free.”
“Since the hurricane, some people take our misfortune and call it business. It’s the highest level of exploitation ever seen in this country and nobody seems to be speaking up and speaking out.”
“These dealers are selling their vehicles with the duty in the price. What happens in January when the Premier says ‘OK, we are gonna pay duty’? That vehicle that costs say $35,000 will cost $40,000 [and] then the BVI will be the most expensive country to live in the world,” the cop said.
In responding to the lawman, Deputy Premier and Representative of the Seventh District, Kedrick Pickering, said government will sanction a formal probe into the matter.
Junior Minister with responsibility for Trade, Marlon Penn, in the meantime, assured that the long-awaited consumer protection bill is nearly ready to be brought before the House of Assembly.
“That legislation is coming. I guarantee that it will be in Cabinet for next Cabinet meeting two weeks from now. Cabinet has to make a decision. It’s a process that it has to go through,” Penn said.
“Once cabinet makes a decision on the legislation and decides they are going forward; then we take it to the House of Assembly to enact the law on the books so we could start putting pressure on the persons who have been taking advantage of the consumers with the territory.”
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