Disabled persons exempted from payment of import taxes |20 April 2021
Disabled persons will now be exempted from paying import taxes on specific modified equipment fitting their special needs such as wheelchairs, special beds, spectacles, hearing aids, including vehicles among others.
It was the cabinet of ministers, chaired by President Wavel Ramkalawan, which on April 14, 2021, among a number of legal and policy memoranda considered, approved the legislation for the exemption, applicable on goods specifically designed or modified for the use of a person with disability.
Speaking to the press yesterday morning at the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) headquarters, Maison Colette, the director for trade, Ashik Hassan, said the exemption comes after numerous requests to government for such assistance. He said the exemption is not automatic and will have to get approval from the Ministry of Health.
He claimed that although an exemption scheme does exist for the disabled, it is being done on a case by case basis according to individual merit and not a transparent procedure as it was not being regulated in a legal framework.
“In terms of product, it will have to be one that will alleviate the impairment of that person with the disability and it will have to be a product that the Ministry of Health will have to confirm that it will help the person,” he said, noting that he expects the bill to be out in two weeks’ time.
Mr Hassan stated that the new bill being drafted by the Attorney General’s Office will create the legal framework to regulate how the exemptions will be provided. He stressed that the person who will qualify for the exemption will be the person with the disability and for those who cannot act on their own, their legal guardian will be entitled to apply on their (disabled) behalf.
He said the procedures are simple and the applicant has only to obtain a letter from the Ministry of Health, confirming him to be the person with the disability and that the product to be imported is one that will help with the impairment. The letter, along with the invoice, must be submitted to the department of Trade in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Trade and once the approval is given, the importation can proceed.
He noted that clearing of these goods will require submitting a bill of entry to the Trade department for endorsement and upon which customs will clear the product on exemption basis.
“We don’t want a situation whereby the product has already been imported and then the person coming to request an approval which will not be necessarily automatic,” he added.
Mr Hassan said that in the past, the approval for exemption was done either through the minister or the principal secretary at the Ministry of Finance to which it also had to pay the tax liable.
He added that now with the new policy coming into law, the tax will be exempted all together and so there will be no need for the ministry to come in to offset the tax.