Douglas, according to some reports, and as understood by some listening the debate, tried to give the impression that Richards was deliberately lying to score political points and was misrepresenting the facts regarding the application of the 17% tax on an item that is “a must”, for the conduct of classroom sessions for the nation’s children.
Though Richards and other fellow parliamentarians on the opposition side of the House tried to indicate that yes, chalk was vattable, the government benches insisted otherwise, even after evidence, through a receipt, showing the purchase of the item with the VAT charges, was presented.
Now after some sober reflection and investigation by the government side, The Prime Minister has had to climb down from his position and has now admitted that indeed, the PAM representative was right all along…VAT is being charged by government on chalk.
While speaking on his weekly radio programme ‘Ask the Prime Minister’ on Tuesday, 28th February, 2012, Dr. Douglas said, “I knew and my colleagues knew that the government intended that chalk would be among the educational items.”
He continued, “This is very basic and very straight forward but what we did not in the National Assembly know, was that this item was inadvertently left off the zero rated items, so when the member opposite suggested that Vat was indeed charged, we simply could not believe it because we knew that was never the intention.”
Douglas added that the government soon learnt that this item had indeed been left off the list and so just as quickly, they moved to ensure that this error would be corrected and VAT will no longer be charged on that particular item.
“So thank you to the member opposite for bringing this to our attention,” Dr. Douglas said.
He finished by saying, “The VAT program works when members of the public share with us their own observation and bring to our attention anything they suspect might be incorrect because this is what enables the government to make any necessary corrections and to move forward.”
Since making these statements members of the general public has called for the Prime Minister to make a public apology to Mr. Richards who Dr. Douglas labelled as a liar after the issue was brought up.