Ezzard queries duty free lard

| 08/12/2009

Cayman Islands News(CNS):  The government has not only missed an opportunity to correct anomalies in the customs duty tariffs but also to help improve health and stimulate local business, the independent MLA for North Side has told CNS. During the debate to amend the law to increase customs duty last week, Ezzard Miller asked the government to consider his motion to change a number of the rates on the tariff that would assist local farmers and growers, cut duty on medicines and put duty on a number of items such as lard. Miller told the Legislative Assembly that it was absurd that the least healthy fat was duty free when things like olive oil carried a duty of 22%.

However, government refused to accept Miller’s motion at the time of the debate as the premier McKeeva Bush said it would first need to confer with the business community over his proposals, but Bush said he would look into Miller’s suggestions for possible future changes. Speaking to CNS after the bill was passed, with none of his suggested changes, Miller said he was disappointed that government had missed a chance to influence people’s behavior as well as start to implement some of its own policy aims as promised in the election.

“I thought, since the government was reviewing the customs tariff, it gave parliament the opportunity to influence behavior and encourage a healthier lifestyle,” he said. “Diet is a big problem in Cayman; most of the problem diseases in the community are diet related. Government needs to the lead the charge on healthier lifestyles and this was a chance to place a 22% duty on lard, a food stuff that’s bad for you, and reduce it on healthier oils.”

Miller said there were a number of other things that are currently duty free or low duty without any obvious reasons, which could have been increased to the 22% rate. This would have then allowed government to reduce duty on necessities such as medicines, which he believes should be duty free. “It’s absurd that medicines are charged at full rate when lard, wood carvings and leather are duty free,” the MLA noted.

Miller said that he had done the work necessary to work out which items could be reduce and which increased so that government coffers which not be negatively impacted, and he said that, in the long run, his suggested amendments would have increased government revenue, not reduced it.

Miller also noted that government did not take the opportunity to help Cayman’s farmers and local growers with a change to the duty on imported plants and agricultural produce. He said that, from an environmental perspective, legislators should be encouraging the use of indigenous plants for all landscaping and to do that local growers needed help to compete more effectively with plant importers.

“Government said in its election campaign it wanted to help farmers and other small businesses and encourage more local production. A change in the tariffs would have helped to do that. There is no reason why imported non-native trees for cultivation should be duty free,” he said, adding that government could have also taken the opportunity to manipulate rates on foreign fruits to help local farmers.

He said he believed that what government really should have done before this change, and still needs to do, is to examine the tariffs more closely and look at how they could better implement their own policies, help local businesses or farmers, and encourage a healthier lifestyle through important duty rates. Miller added that all over the world governments use the tax or fee system to influence behavior and manipulate the economy and there was no reason why the Cayman Islands government couldn’t do the same thing.

On this occasion it was apparent that government had not undertaken any kind of serious cost analysis exercise regarding the duty, he observed, but had simply upped the rate by 2% on all items that already carried duty. Miller said it was apparent that no one had looked closely at why certain goods are rated the way they are or why they remain duty free before this bill came to the House.

“One of the first things that you see on the tariffs is that turtle is still listed when it is illegal to import any turtle related products. It needs to be deleted,” Miller noted, adding that there were a number of anomalies that no longer made sense and needed to be changed.

He said it was a shame that government hadn’t chosen to modernize the tariff and make it reflect the needs of the local community as it is today when they had the perfect opportunity while amending the law.

Government has said that the increases to duty will take effect in a few weeks when the new amendment to the law is gazetted.

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  1. Cayman National Party says:

    According to Ezzard, Caymanian lard is the best lard in the world.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well! according to all the experts here Lard is a derivitive of the Pig.

    According to my Cardiologist Pork is the other white meat after chicken.

    So! if white meat is healthy, why would anyone consider Lard to be unhealty??

    Come on all you Pig experts out there, explain this to me because I am confused.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mac cannot do any changes to duties without asking xxxxx.  He should first think about the people and the country before thinking about his party supporters pockets!!!!!!!. Lard is used for frying chicken and plantains at supermarkets’ kitchens and it will be after many years those who eat those fried food will get to know their heart valves are blocked with fat.

  4. Andrew says:

    Notice lot of nice things said about Ezzard Miller, but let us be careful.  Ezzard wants us to become INDEPENDENT!  To break clean from the UK!  And if that so happens, it would be the day that the Cayman Islands will be left in the hands of those who want to use power for their own interest. We need a “partner-relationship” with the UK, and we need to fight for that sort of political and economic equality! 

    Independence is not the answer, Mr. Miller; rather, Free Association is!

    • anonymous says:



      No need to try to put a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.Mr. Miller ismaking a lot of sense economically and fiscally. Rigt now under Big Mac’s leadership is like being independent, he’s doing what he darn well pleases. If Ezzard believes in anything he is capable and educated enough to tell us himself who are you? You want to continue living in luxery while Caymanians suffer, that’s who you are.

      You’re probably from the UDP or the opposition why you would try to scare people from this fine gentleman Mr. Miller who is an obvious leader. Your reason for scaring off people and voters from him is because he is a leader that cares for his people and stands up for every Caymanian so shut up.

      We still want Ezzard Miller for premiere .I trust his judgment.

      The only people that hate Ezzard are those anti-caymanians ande those who hate the poor.

      I’msure that when the members of the L.A get enough of Big Mac, they know what to do. Turn things around. They did it to Kurt in 2001remember?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Tarriffs imposed to protect local products from imports do not help a local economy, they stultify it and harm the overal size of national product.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard seems to be the only one in the LA (outside the UDP) that has any sort of spine. I was listening to the radio last week and heard him and I had to say that I was rather impressed. I am a young person who really does not follow meetings in the LA but I happend to ovehear bits and pieces. All I could hear was he and Mckeeva- battling it out. (Which btw let me say I was also impressed by the way Big Mac conducted himself:) he sounded rather calm and collected) Just want to say great job to him and to the North Siders that voted him. I recall persons saying that we should not ‘waste our votes’ on the independents but just look at him today. He’s one man- with no team support but does he have a ‘voice’? I think so. Even if his ideas/ suggestions are not being implemented, atleast he is making himself heard. I voted PPM but I had to say that I was a little unhappy that they were not voicing their concerns- at least from what I heard. Anyway, with that said, I do not know how the people from his district would comment on his work but as far as I can see, he has been a seen and is working for his money as well as for the people of our country.

    • Anonymous says:

      ("outside the UDP"), are you serious? Can you name one of the udp "fries" & "yes-people" that has a spine (or backbone), just name one! Not one of the udp have the backbone, the guts, the spine, however you want to put it, to stand up to the dictator, NONE! They do not have a voice or mind of their own, we can’t hear them, & they just go with the flow (in other words, they do what they are TOLD TO DO!). How can you say that any of the spineless cronies of the udp have a spine? IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE! But by the way, it sure was funny!

      • Anonymous says:

        What was meant was that

        We all know that Mac is the voice behind the UDP. I was not implying that the other UDP members speak out against their leader/ or have the guts, but rather that Ezzard was the only one that stood up. I guess I thought that people would understand what was meant. Maybe I should rephrase to say that Mr. Miller is one of the few in the LA that has a spine. I was only noting that none of the PPM members protested- being that they are the opposition. At least from what I heard, none of them made any comments… even if they thought that those ideas would only be thrown out the door.
        “Outside the UDP” Ezzard seemed to be, because obviously if no oopposing suggestions were made, surely the others must be in favour of the bills that were being passed?
  7. Anonymous says:

    Hey, it would be good to pay attention to Ezzard’s recommendations regarding health, after all he is a qualified pharmacist – at least more qualified in the medical field than any Minister of Health (other than his own tenure in that post). The benefits of his professional background were evident when, as Minister of Health, he made great strides in AIDS awareness/prevention, his advocacy of health insurance and in his push against smoking. 

    Notwithstanding that his recommendations this time around are in a financial context, his track record in health care initiatives is sound.

    PS, to his detractors and other cynics, I’m not Ezzard writing this.


    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 13:25

      Ezzard’s term as Health Member (not Minister in those days) was an acknowledged disaster despite what you say which has merit. If only he wasn’t so XXXXXX know it all anti expat and pro the backward forces of Cayman he would have been someone.

      Those who love high powered motor bikes can thank him for his championing of their cause. The rest of us live with the terrifying consequences. I am certain the cop cars can’t catch them they are so  fast. They never seem to be stopped for speeding which they do as a matter of course.

      • anonymous says:

        Bull Bull Bull and B.S

        Ezzard had a vision for the hospital and the vision came through regardless of where the hospital still is. To endorse his vision there is now talks of a bigger hospital so who was right you with your limited vision or Mr. Miller?

        Secondly, speaking of disaster, start with the bank on West Bay Road, sinking into the economic swamp ; tell me if that is what you consider good leadership. You have not a leg to stand on,  because if motorcycle ryders and cops chasing them is all you have under your hat against Mr. Miller I dare say, it makes him look pretty good, at least he has not been involved in any scandal!  and does not kiss the ass of developers who waht to dredge out the guts of this island leaving us at risk for aHurricane Ketrina, New Orleans, Lusiana disaster waiting to happen. If Cayman experiences such a disaster due to over development and dewstruction of the ecology, dstroying the protctive barriers from the impat of hurricanes, I dare say there will be many impeachments and law suits filed in the Privy counsel courts that will bankrupt somebody who is weilding their power all over the world, selling every square inch of this little paradise called the CI slands..We will forever be under the British "Thumb" if that happens. They would strip us more naked than they did the Turks and Caicos. You know why bcause it would take trillions of dollars to bring back the Cayman Islands that is alow lwvel flat mountain top, with no levys to protect us from tidal waves etc. So to save the UK face from embarassment they will tell Obama and the whole world that the government of the CI is at last under investigation and that the L.A.House is dissolved.So Big Mac, keep selling your real estate, keep signing, keep shining, and keep dining, and stay in these developers back pocket, is it airconditioned back there, does it have a jacuzzi, what about a sauna, I’m sure there must be a golf course and definitly a Casino!  That’s too much power to go down the drain!

  8. Anon says:

    Why stop with lard, the Govermnent should tax everything that Burger King, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut and Dominos bring in.

    • Anonymous says:

      what abouyt traditional west indian foods where nearly everything is deep fried…

      • Dan Dan says:

        You obviously don’t regularly eat or prepare West indian food ….but in the hopes of enlightening/educating you a little, most of the meats we eat (west indians) are below and if you look up ways to cook them (google or ask an old caymanian) frying would be at the very bottom of the list of prepartion methods for most people:

        Turtle, Goat, Beef, Seafood e.g. fish, wilks, conch, shrimp, etc.

        We do enjoy our chicken and most caribbean folk would rather BBQ, Baked or stewed chicken before they consider frying it.

        I do believe you may be confusing us with maybe your homeland, lol!

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes you should keep eating those so you can become a West Indian Duppy…

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you miss the point? I think they are not taxing lard – but the healthier oils like olive oil? Good that you are voicing your concerns though….

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you 12:28, we should tax "fronters" & maybe it will stop. We need to go back to the traditional 60/40.

      • Anonymous says:

        The Law says wew get the shares in such companies. Enforce the law and we will have more than enough money. 

  9. Anonymous says:

    I always thought the tariffs needed to be reviewed.  Certain items are just too overpriced in Cayman, and it just happens to be the items that you "need", not the items you "want".

  10. Anonymous says:

    whats healthy and unhealthy? it’s people additction to sugars and carbohydrates that leads to many health problems. You can eat a high fat diet and still be very fit and healthy.. it all dependes on your lifestyle….

  11. Anonymous says:

     01:09 use this link http://www.gazettes.gov.ky/servlet/page?_pageid=3681&_dad=portal30&_schema=PORTAL30&_mode=3

    and click on 79/09 – the Customs Tarriff amendment bill.  You will be amazed at what gets dutied – and what doesn’t, especially in the supermarket.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The Hon. Ezzard Miller has raised an extremely important subject – the real economic cost of “unhealthy consumer products” that we consume (take in through our mouth and / or use).  Surprisingly locally and internationally governments worldwide support unhealthy consumer products because their industries have very effective lobby groups influencing politicians.

    We blindly pay dearly in increased medical fees and health insurance without examining how we can live healthier lifestyles.

    This could be the beginning of  a health discussion based on "Logic" instead of the usual "Politic", to those who know please give us references to support your statements.

    To "Ezzard as Former Minister" and The Hon. Ezzard Miller and others commenting on this subject please give us references to support your respective positions.

    CNS could you ask the Heart Foundation and Cayman Islands Medical Association to each prepare a paper commenting on the Duty Rates / Duty Free for products deemed to be either healthy or unhealthy (resulting in unnecessary increased medical costs).

    Our economy is in a mess and we need to look at all factors influencing the cost of living and the cost of doing business in the Cayman Islands. 

    Yes, we do have some control over our economy – not every factor affecting our economy is external.

    The Hon. Ezzard Miller thanks for raising this important healthy subject.


  13. Anonymous says:

    I as a solid UDP supporter am awefully disappointed as well.  I do recall hearing this subject being debated on the radio and hung my head a little lower.

    Now I do understand politics and business a little.  One must not bite the hand that feeds you.  But the best business practice is to not receive favors in business as it twarts things from there on.  Maybe that crunch and the marlroad discussions on where some of the "help out"money came from does not have that many pot holes after all?

    COnsidering all fair and even, any help given to our government, our country should not be looked upon as a favor but as a honor even responsibility…in the perfect world.  In the real world…increases will affect the working class and middle class and even the lower middle class good folks.  It is the wealthy and "big"business that will continue to florish.

    I am disappointed in the UDP’s actions….I understand their actions and the aim for the greater good, but it is going to be hard to explain that to the closed small business’and the hurting families, even if it is just short term.

    May the Lord of heaven and earth be with us and guide us through this.


  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry this is crazy. Olive oil is jacked up 22-percent over the top? Is there a comprehinsive list or link to exactly what is taxed and what is not?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes there is. Here is the link to the CI Customs web site, Tariff page. Hope this helps.


    • Anonymous says:

      Even with 22% duty, I can’t see how Fosters can justify pricing on a pre-packed Waitrose curry at just over $17.  In UK they cost about 2 pounds (and they’re very unhealthy)!

      • Richard Wadd says:

         Dear ‘Even with 22% duty’,

           While I agree the price is high, one needs to understand that the MAIN factor that affects this isAir-freight.

         In order for these types of products to arrive on island Before their Expiry-date, the only shipping option is by Air, which, from the UK, is very costly on perishable cargo.

         As Foster’s has always had a policy of sourcing what their customers request, no matter how small the demand, it can sometimes be very difficult to keep some of the prices ‘in check’ when ALL of the variables are added.

        I once had to Air-freight a part in from the UK. The Shipping Cost was over US$9,000.00.

        So while I sympathize, of one thing I’m sure, the price isn’t high because of Foster’s.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard, as a former Minister of Health you are very poorly informed.

    LARD is one of the healthiest fats if it comes from grass fed cows, however if it comes from grain fed cows it is in the same caliber as soybean oil, corn oil and all the other oils we have been led to believe are healthy simply because the sales of these oils in the USA are controlled by lobbyist.

    Since all the hype about Lard being so bad, has the number of heart disease cases dropped? Absolutely not, in fact the number of heart disease cases have risen.

    I was raised on Lard and coconut oil and are much healthier at my age than all those who has been raised on the great soybean and corn oils.

    • NSS says:

      Lard, by definition, is pig fat.  What cows eat counts for nothing here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lard is "rendered pig fat".  Not cow fat.  Pig fat.  And I don’t know where you get the idea that what you feed an animal changes the caliber of the fat, since the rendering process pretty much takes all the fat from different pigs and combines it (from wikipedia: industrially-produced lard, including much of the lard sold in supermarkets, is rendered from a mixture of high and low quality fat sources from throughout the pig. It is typically hydrogenated (which produces trans fats as a by-product), and often treated with bleaching and deodorizing agents, emulsifiers, and antioxidants, such as BHT.  Such treatment makes lard shelf stable.) 

      If there is "organic" or "single source" pig fat out there, I certainly haven’t seen it in cayman. 

  16. what a mess says:

    Miller is absolutely right here!

    Another example of Governments incompetence. Re-active governing. All these overpaid politicians and their overpaid personel who don’t even read most of these bills/laws, let alone objectively examine them.

    I’ve often thought that leather, expensive jewelry etc. should attract duty…and that medicines and healthier foods should be duty free.

    Of course we know many rich merchants will not agree because of their shortsighted selfish greed.

    Another (tax the middle class and poor…and protect the rich’s interests) example. Of course Mac is rich now too, and he can pay his bills with Govt. funds (just raise MLA salaries whenever he/they want).

    Sad!…more reason for those that feel dis-enfranchised to not respect the law…and thus for crime to increase even more.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Good thinking!! Let us tax Lard heavily and make Olive Oil duty free then as a country we should have less bills for CINICO in the long-run.