Driven by Frans Ponson of the General Store, and Francis Saladin of Frasa International Trading NV, a new merchant association announced its formation last week, as a form of grass root protest.
Normally they would be organized under ATIA the Aruba Trade & Industry Association “the leading advocacy organization representing the interests of the Aruban businesses and providing a range of services to its members, since June 18th, 1945.”
But somewhere along these years ATIA fell asleep or lost its edge and an alternative has been formed CUA, which in Papiamento stands for United Merchants Aruba, representing more than 10 thousand locals.
They had already drafted an urgent letter to the MinFec, Finance, Economy & Culture, on July 4th, 2019, so far unanswered in which they outlined their concerns.
What moved them to action is the recent discussion on the bundling of all taxes, namely, BBO/BAZV and BAVP, into the total price on the bottom of the consumer’s receipt.
Their collective petition asked the MinFec to reconsider and postpone the implementation of that ruling until such time when the complete upcoming tax reform is revealed.
They want to keep the BBO / BAZV / BAVP on the receipt, for the sake of transparency.
As it stands right now, the consumer is taxed three times – which is a great cause of general dissatisfaction, when you read comments, posted on line, in the wake of the CUA formation.
Goods are taxes by import duties upon entering the country. That tax is paid by the wholesaler and passed on to the retailer together with the required 6%, then the retailer passes all above to the consumer with another 6%, as stipulated by law.
By the time it reaches the consumer, the product is considerably more expensive, and the process opaque, if all added taxes, hidden.
CUA is asking to have a voice in the process, and see a broader representation of trade, in the tax reform.
In the letter to the minister CUA stated that the excessive taxation is affecting their cost of doing businesses negatively and further dimishes the buying power of the consumer, besides creating uncertainty among consumers.
CUA wants to be better informed, contribute to economic decisions, they seek transparency, and accountability, and most importantly, the tightening of the belt equally exercised, in Government circles, among consumers and in the business sector.
That decision to hide taxation, concerns merchants but should also concern consumers who have the right to know where their money is going.
And for the sake of administration, that policy of one charge which includes all taxes is an administrational nightmare, when the time comes, at the end of the month, to hand the money over to the tax collector, and when it comes to changing all prices on store tags.
CUA has been talking to the Aruba Gastronomic Association and the Aruba Hotel & Tourism Association, to the Aruba Timeshare Association and is confident this grass root revolt will catch fire.