HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

Association meets MFEM over levies
Last week, members of the Cook Islands Restaurant Association Inc, met with Finance Secretary Richard Neves to discuss a number of issues.
The Association was formed in January 2012 and has 10 members representing 12 establishments.
The matters discussed at the meeting were;
-General overview of the country’s financial situation and trends,
-Information about fiscal policies impacting on the Association’s business,
-Overview of VAT revenue from restaurants and bars, the business impact of the night markets, stall, and resorts offering food/drink packages (according to survey results, up to 25% of visitors are purchasing these packages before arriving in the country)
-Any other relevant breakdown by the Association’s industry for PAYE, Company Tax, Tariffs,
-VAT and Tax threshold limits for food/beverage business,
-Reasoning behind the recent tariff increases on imported sugared/carbonated drinks, and
-Opinions on the existing vegetable/fruit and pork tariffs.
Some main concerns expressed by the Association was the levy on Diet drinks when these had less sugar and should be encouraged, the levies of 75% and 25% on imported vegetables and fruits when local vegetables and fruits were not available because they were out of season or in short supply and the non-availability of local pork which is produced mainly for festive occasions and private consumption. If healthy eating is to be encouraged, why are there such high levies applied?
The Association is concerned that the latest available financial data shows that since 2009 the declared gross turnover for the restaurant industry has declined while the turnover for hotels has risen significantly, 12% up on 2010’s figures. All this while visitor numbers have increased by around 6% per year. It indicates more people are eating at hotels or places other than restaurants.
Also of interest is that while there are some 70 food and beverage establishments registered with MFEM, the declared gross turnover in the March quarter was $3.670 million. However, it is estimated that around two thirds of this amount, $2.5 million to $3 million is contributed by the Association’s 10 members.
The Association was encouraged by Neves reception and looks forward to regular dialogues with MFEM.
Neves and his Minister are currently in Japan. -Charels Pitt

Herald Issue 608 21 March
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- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
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- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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