Ezzard calls for lard tax

| 29/09/2011

(CNS): With a long list of items that remain inexplicably duty free, including lard, the independent MLA for North Side has queried why government can't lift the 12% duty on medicines and medical equipment to give the country's senior citizens some, albeit minor, relief and transfer the duty to some of the many other random items on the customs tariff. Government voted “no” to a private members motion brought by Ezzard Miller on Thursday asking for the duty relief, stating that it was considering a range of measures on how to make health care cheaper for all but it could not just cut government revenue streams without replacing it from somewhere else.

Miller pointed to the irony that lard, one of the most unhealthy products people could consume, was tax free while most medicines carried a duty. He said there was a long list of items in the customs tariff law 2010 that remained duty free that could very easily be taxed to raise the $3 million which government would expect to receive in the financial year from medicines and medical supplies. As well as lard, Miller listed binoculars, chickens, trees and plants, telescopes, wool, pearls, gold bullion, pets, jewellery cases, radios, tractors and a multitude of other goods that were duty free that could be taxed to raise the missing revenue.

Miler said that government should be using the custom's tariff as a way of manipulating healthy behaviour, but when lard was duty free and medicines were rated at 12% there was something wrong. The independent member's motion was defeated but not before he had noted the idiocy of the customs tariff. He pointed to only four things which were excluded from duty relating to medicines and medical equipment: insulin, vaccines, wheelchairs and appliances for the severely disabled.

Miller said that for many of his constituents who were pensioners on fixed income, taking the duty off their medicines would offer a small relief as many did not get assistance from government. He suggested that “political patronage was rampant” when it came to benefits from government and who got free health care and who did not. He pointed to three of his constituents who had applied to CINICO recently who had been refused despite their need because of the subjectivity that surrounds who gets benefits and who doesn't.

Miller said the amount he was asking for was not so great, especially when there were many other items that did not need to be duty free, but the small amount of reduction in the cost of medicines could make a genuine difference to many of the country's seniors.

The motion was seconded by the member for East End, who also represents a number of elderly constituents, and he said government was recently bragging about its $25 million surplus and having turned the economy around when so many people were still suffering. Arden McLean said it was particularly difficult for the elderly to survive and they were, unlike in other countries, given very few breaks or discounts in Cayman. He said that having grey hair here seemed to be a signal to some people that they had money, which was not always the case.

“I implore the government to look for some way for seniors to get exemptions,” he said suggesting that pharmacies could be trusted to submit records of the refunds given to the elderly only if government was not going to support a removal of the duty across the board. He spoke about how the Legislative Assembly had voted to give away millions of dollars in duty concessions on Wednesday to the Cayman Enterprise City but government could not give a 12% duty reduction to the country's elderly.

Health Minster Mark Scotland argued that government had already formed a committee that was examining health costs across the board and was looking to reduce all elements of health care, making it more affordable for everyone. He also pointed out that many elderly people and seniors already accessed health care and drugs for free via the Health Services Authority or were covered by CINICO. Furthermore, he said that the Shetty Hospital would provide future reductions in health care for all of Cayman's elderly patients and would provide quality care while cutting costs to government. Scotland said there were numerous ways that government was helping to lower the cost of health for everyone and would carry on examining areas where reductions could be made.

The premier stated that throughout his political career he had wanted to reduce duty on many things but right now he no longer controlled the budget because of the pressure from the UK. He said that the FCO had already told him that if he was going to give the 3.2% cost of living allowance backto civil servants, he would have to find that somewhere else.

Bush also pointed to the extremely high bills government faced for health care, which were rising, and he indicated that this year it would likely have to wipe out bad debt at the hospital that had amounted to more than $12 million because local people could not pay and would probably never be able to pay.

He said that government wished it was in a position to agree to the motion but, given the situation, it was not possible at the moment. Bush maintained that the health minister was working hard to reduce everyone's health care costs. He said he was an all fours with the opposition bench over the issue and he wanted to see  health costs cut for everyone. 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    We need to have a "fat" tax, seriously, other countries do it. It would create revenue and make unhealthy foods more expensive to buy.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The problem isn't the duty on medications.  The problem is the greedy owners of the pharmacies who apply up to 200% profit on their products.  That's right, some medicines are uplifted by 200%! It's just the same old thing — greed, greed, and more greed.  

    Cayman has become an island full of greedy people: politicians whot line their own pockets from their positions of influence; business owners who pay their staff $3.50 an hour or uplift their profit margins 200%; corporations that exploit their monopolies with unreasonable charges to their customers (CUC), and robbers who want something for nothing.  It's all the same thing: GREED.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Premier,

    "The premier stated that throughout his political career he had wanted to reduce duty on many things but right now he no longer controlled the budget because of the pressure from the UK. "

    If that is the case how do you explain the millions handed out to the churches?  Or the8+ million for JuJu's hotel on the Brac.

    It seems your in control when it works for you (and getting votes)  but someone else is to blame when it doesn't.

    We have had enough!!!!!

  4. cow itch says:

    lard, hallelujah, me nipples get rest!

  5. Anonymous says:

    "The premier stated that throughout his political career he had wanted to reduce duty on many things but right now he no longer controlled the budget because of the pressure from the UK."

    Please remind me of what puropse or use McKeeva is???

    Honestly. He does NOTHING.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Here comes the Nanny Government.  This man is not only a fool, he's a dangerous one. 

    Government _cannot_ and _should not_ control,

    What people eat – There is no tax on lard because its FOOD! not a material for resale, or to be used for profit.  and yes… the medical industry is in business to PROFIT.  As evil as that may sounds to many and thus subject to taxes.  Even medical establishments need to generate REVENUE.  I can't stand this continual feel-good meaningless populist polices coming out of this guy.  Its always about "How it Sounds…"  not EFFECT and RESULTS.  

    The economy – The Government should provide a fertile environment, basic laws to regulate its legality and get the hell out of the way for the most part.  minimum wage a a clear example that this man has no clue.  Minimum wage will do NADA to help those he's pretending to help.  Minimum wage will help the self-serving POLITICIANS ONLY.

    We have these failed models all around the world is at this very instant showing us their UTTER FAILURE and Ezzard is always right in front of the line pushing the same crap over here.

    Besides, Ezzard should consider that if lard get's taxed, he won't be able to afford the freakin' taxes.


    • Knot S Smart says:

      Were you always this confused? Or is this distorted reasoning a recent thing?

  7. B.B.L. Brown says:

    It is criminal that seniors are being gouged for their medications, which many could not live without.  Sure the government has to have money so they can make things better for the Cayman people AND THEMSELVES , but why pick on elderly folks who are in poor health and need medicine?  Personally I never understood why medications were taxed to begin with.  Medications are not items of choice like some of the other untaxed items mentioned.  If you don't buy your medications, you are putting yourself at risk….. you could die.  It's a heartless bastard who advocates taxes on medications!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I am sure this guy is crazy. “EZZARD who else” want to tax binoculars, chickens, trees and plants, telescopes, wool, pearls, gold bullion, pets, jewellery cases, radios, and tractors. How can you tax tractors at a time when farmers should be getting incentives. And to make matters worse the man wants to tax trees and plants “OMG” you should be encouraging the government top give away plants. I would plant more trees but to hell I am not going to spend that money for it. Ok on the fun side how many people here want a dam telescope, gold bullion, pearls, binoculars, and you should go to jail for wanting to tax animals. Things you guys are willing to do and say for politics.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Talking of wiping out the bad debt of some or all of the HSA customers is merely a political, vote-gaining exercise by Mac. You do not just wipe it off or right it off, you sell your debt to collection agencies for say 65 cents on the dollar (depending on the ageof the debt and circumstances of the debtor). come on Mac, you gotta try to get something for it, otherwise it will be looked at as bad management.


    By the way, if you right off the debt of Joe Blo today, and Joe Blo comes to HSA next year for treatment, do you agree to treat him or her on credit again? Risking the chance to rack up some more bad debt?


    Hey, wait a moment, back it up… (Beep Beep Beep), how does HSa have any bad debt in the first place? isn't everyone covered by insurance in Cayman, even down to CINICO coverage?

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am so very happy that Mr. Miller brought that motion to the LA.  It really shows the priorities of some government members while highlighting the ignorance of many bloggers, enough said.

  11. Hmmmmmm says:

    Have you read the comments from this article?  It says it all.  There is no care about people it is about money and keeping money for the selected few.



  12. Anonymous says:

    Yes, and please also raise the duty on cigarettes, fuel guzzling big SUVs (especially if there is more than one pro family!), plastic utensils etc.

    People need to be forced to spend healthy and more environmental friendly life style. It's sad that they need to be forced but unfortunately, that's the way it is.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are an idiot! When it comes down to "forcing" people to do things, just remember that you also can be "forced" when someone decides that your behavior isn't to their liking. Then all you'd do is cry….but I didn't mean me…..

  13. Nunsense! says:

    There's a lot more money to be made in a "Stoopid Tax".

    • Missa Collecta says:

      But we should call it the "Nunsense Tax", collected by placing a jar in the Legislative Assembly in to which each member is required to place $5 every time they talk "nunsense"

      • Anonymous says:

        But who would determine that? Surely not the Speaker who is clearly beholden to the Premier.  

  14. Anonymous says:

    How about we make make solar panels, electric cars, wind generators, scooters, Segways etc duty free (and where necessary street legal).

    It would go along way to helping us.

    I don't imagine lard alone will make much of a difference in revenue, what else was on the list that wasn't mentioned?

    • Anonymous says:

      From the last administration, solar energy products were being considered for duty-free or duty-reduced classification.


      Need to follow up with Mac now to see where this is as the Finance Minister is responsible for Customs.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Lard is exempt from duty for the same reason it was exempt from GST in Canada. It once was a staple ineveryones household especially the poor, rather like flour.

    Before we became health conscious it was used for baking, to fry dinner instead of vegetable oil and just about everything in between. My grandmother had a pan of it on the back of the stove (no worries about it going bad in Canada) and added some to almost everything she made.

    It is bad for us but wow the flavour difference between a meat cooked in lard and meat cooked in oil or grilled is amazing.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a small tub of lard in the fridg. for making pasties. It makes pie-crusts etc. light and flakey. I also have a large tub of lard on a recliner chair in front of the television.

      • Your Husband says:

        I know who you are honey, you may jest but deep down you know you like it.

  16. Expand your mind says:

    I dont understand how the 'genius' politicians can approve the tech zone where the govt will get no benefit other than the politicians in their personal capacity and not want to have medical supplies and medicine across the board duy free?

    In the tech zone only the developers will benefit from the guaranteed rental of their commercial property.  It will be like CUC and C&W the only option and we all know what happened there with their monopoly.  If these developers are so confident that it will work why is it not open market for Cayman as a Country?  Their trickle down argument remains for them as they too would have opportunity for the tenants to rent from them. Why is it only restricted to their buildings?


    Next you really want a third pillar economy for Cayman?  Bring educational facilities here.  That would mean a bunch of trade schools, community colleges and universities.  The revenue stream would be from the students renting, shopping etc.  Create a law which makes Cayman attractive for the universities to have a branch here.  It can function as providing better opportunities for locals to get further education and it will encourage people to come to Cayman.  The students would provide the revenue for Cayman.  See the success of St. Matthews University.

  17. Smoke and Mirrors says:

    The real issue is that this was compared to the potential revenues from the approved tech zone.  That is a significant revenue stream diverted from govt to a private real estate developer turned into a landlord once ground breaks.  It is to benefit the entire Cayman Islands they say…..hmmmm I say let it benefit the entire Cayman Islands by allowing the entire Cayman Islands the benefit of the confines of the law.  Once the law covers the entire jurisdiction, rather than a monopolized landlord agreement, then it is all fair game and it is beneficial to Cayman as a whole.


    This issue of Lard is made to confuse, blind and switch up the focus.  It is not about the lard.  it is about a revenue stream.  It is not about CEC it is about the XXXX.  It is not about benefitting the Cayman Islands, it is about lining a few people's pockets. 


    People do not get fooled!

    • Anonymous says:

      if you dont have the developer in the first place, what revenue stream are you talking about?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Now I'm no Ezzard supporter but I agree.  When fast food is cheaper than junk food and the cola is sky high, what do you think will happen?  For example, I went to Burger King intending to eat a salad but I only had a few dollars and there were two of us so we ordered a value burger.  Maybe there is somewhere taht has cheap salads that I don't know of but I have heard many people complain about it is cheaper to buy fast food than salads.  If anyone know a place, please let me know so I can recommend to friends sometime as I rarely eat out.

    At least Ezzard is trying.

    BTW, the best cake icing is made with lard.  Another item that I don't have often due to budget restraints.

    • Anonymous says:

      Strange as it may sound, but having that fast food burger is actually slightly better for you than that fast food salad (if you have the dressing). If you actually took the time to look at the calories/nutritional values of a burger vs a salad with dressing at burger king, you will see that the burger is better for you.

      Anyway if you want a good cheap salad at lunch time – go to the super markets. You will be surprised how goos the salad bars are and the variety of food you can get for lunch.



  19. Anonymous says:

    The premier and the l.a. as a whole do not have an easy job. Whilst I think it is ridiculous that lard is duty free, the country still needs to assure revenue streams are maintained. Coming from North America most prescriptions are less expensive in Cayman then in the States due to our being lumped in with “Latin America” in manufacturers pricing schemes.

  20. Truth says:

    Ezzard while this is all well and good.  How about focusing on educating the people of Cayman to eat heathier.  My children eat healthy, they are 10 and 8.  They eat many fruits and vegetables.  Both are generally expensive but guess what I made it a point to teach them how to eat right.  I also taught them how to grow the fruits and vegetables.  They tend to eat seasonal local fruits, guavas, mangoes, june plums, the red plums etc.  The vegetables are also grown outside, the string beans, tomatoes, cucumbers etc.  The rest I buy in the supermarket.  It taught them patience and healthy living.  Bring that in the schools to teach the children how to grow plants even if it is small plants by the windows indoors.  Teach them about nutrients and what makes them stronger, faster, better, more intelligent, better looking due to being healthier etc  At that point Lard could cost a penny and little to no one would buy it because demand would no longer be there. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Why are they exclusive options. Carrots go well with sticks (couldn't resist ;< )).

  21. Anonymous says:

    Lard. Now that brings back memories, in my case from my UK childhood. I vividly recall my dad once spreading lard on his morning toast by mistake. We kids laughingly pointed it out, but were absolutely horrified when he simply scaped (most of) it off and laid on butter and marmelade. That was the WW2 generation for you, and he'd done six years in the army and was part of the D2 landing. From what I've heard of my father-in-law and my brother-in -law (both Caymanian seamen), things didn't begin to soften up half as quickly here!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Trees and plants are duty free??!! Good God, I need a discount on those expensive Canary Island palms I had my landscape contractor put in today!! As soon as I finish viewing Andromeda and the Milky Way, I am going to send them an email demanding my discount or tomorrow I'll take my New Holland tractor and pull them out and take them back!

    Now if I could only find my pearls which I thought I'd put in this gold jewelry case. Kinda chilly tonight, good thing I have my cashmere sweater.  Come Fifi, you need to eat that chicken in lard I fixed for you. 

    Thanks Ezzard, can't wait for all my rebates!

    • Anonymous says:

      First of all trees are plants.  To say plants and trees makes no sense.  Secondly there is 20% duty on the importation of most plants into the Cayman Islands.  Plants used to be duty free but this changed several years ago.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I actually agree that Cayman should do more for its pensioners.  So here's a suggestion, how about all the civil servants who both earn wages, get their pensions paid without contribution and receive free healtchare, pay for their own healtchare like the rest of us and let the pensioners have the benefits instead?  I also actually like the idea of taxing things that are bad for us and reducing taxes and introducing exemptions on things that are good for us – help promote a healthier cayman.

  24. Slowpoke says:

    "Health Minster Mark Scotland argued that government had already formed a committee that was examining health costs across the board and was looking to reduce all elements of health care, making it more affordable for everyone."

    "Committee" Fresh out of puters, internets and googles at the ministry?

    That said, yes, go ahead and charge duty on lard.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Lard is duty free??????


    Mr. Premier, there is a source of new revenue for the government. Go for it.

  26. Anonymous says:

    A lard tax seems appropriate, given the present LA.

  27. Chris says:

    Ezzard is right again.

    Reducing medical costs and offsetting the revenue reduction by increasing the duty on unhealthy items such as lard is a step in the right direction for the national health of the country.

    Doughnuts, fast food, ice cream etc can all be subject to the increased duty as none of these items are necessities.

    The decision of the UDP members to vote against a motion that could help to improve the national health of the Cayman Islands is absurd!


  28. Anonymous says:

    Mac knew when he said he wanted to return the pay cut he imposed on the CS that the UK would say no.

    "The premier stated that throughout his political career he had wanted to reduce duty on many things but right now he no longer controlled the budget because of the pressure from the UK. He said that the FCO had already told him that if he was going to give the 3.2% cost of living allowance backto civil servants, he would have to find that somewhere else."

    It was a setupfor him to look good while once again blaming someone else.
    The sad part is that some will believe him.

    Why is it never his fault??? Is that the conspiracy?

    Health care is a mess and Mr. Scotland has not deliverd on his promises.

  29. Anony Mous says:

    I would love to agree with fixing the duty problem, but would Mr. Ezee go easy on us and reduce the cost or would the pharmacies keep the price the same by giving the excuse like others that the cost from the manufactures have increased. Let me help Mr. Miller on his subject, finish jewellery does not attract duty but the raw material which the local people uses to try and make a living from to feed their families is charged duty which makes it impossible for locals to seriously think of competing with imported finished goods. I don't think that things like these should be duty free, and yes the cost of medication for some one on a fixed income is unbearable in most cases.

    • Anonymous says:

      There is a 12% duty on all finished  jewelry into Cayman Islands. And a 22 % on costume jewelry. I agree that loose gemstones and components shoud be duty free so that Cayman can compete with all other islands fairly. Please get your facts right before posting on CNS it only upsets people for no reason.

  30. Anonymous says:

    I know you guys are just baiting me for a politoco = lard joke.

  31. Anonymous says:

    It's difficult to improve on a headline which says Ezzard  calls for lard tax! does anyone use lard anymore? Where can you buy it?

    • Anonymous says:

      If you shop, it is on the shelves at the supermarkets, and known as CRISCO.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks 6:13, but isn't CRISCO made from some sort of solidified vegetable oil now and not rendered pig fat? I may be wrong. The original lard we oldies grew up on made food taste delicious but then the health police ruled it was bad for us. Such is life.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard on "subjectivity"!!?? LOL. When he was Member for Health in the 1990s, he decreed who should have their debts to the then Department of Health Services (DHS) waived. I was there at the DHS at that time. The DHS was outraged but he ranted and bullied and humiliated us until we caved in on some patients (of course, his supporters) One particular case stood out. The person is now very prominent in our country. Her bill for a family member was never paid. It was just short of $200,000 and eventually it was written off although the family then, and especially now, could easily have dealt with it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ezzzard hs tried to reinvent himself as an independent but it is people like you and people who remember that remind us that he a wolf in sheep's clothing.

    • dartanian says:

      I challenge you 18;19 poster to produce proof of your statement Ezzard established the first HSA and was never involved in any sorting of debts for DHS, you claim you wer at DHS well I was at the portifilio and I can attest that EZZARD never got involved in and debt collection or rightoff for any one.

      • Anonymous says:

        Judging by the illiteracy of your post, dartanian, if you "wer" indeed at the "portifilio" (isn't that a restaurant at East End?!), it explains much about the performance of government at that time. By the way, before Ezzard established the first HSA (you are correct in saying this), what was there? Duh! The Department of Health Services. The poster at 18:19 (I am not that person) was correct.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Mr Ezzard I know you are always trying hard to keep your people comfortable throughout the Island, and It is a shame that the Government will spend money on so many things, except the  Seniors who built the country.  It is a shame to hear and see the seniors of this country asking for money to buy a few more items, because the little 550.00 a month they get cannot help them.

    So many seniors are suffering with high blood pressure and diabetes and cannot even afford to put on their air condition.  What a shame.  I do not know how situations are with your seniors in North Side, but in Bodden Town it is very bad.  We do not even have an MLA Officer in this district, and as bad as they say the PPM was at least the seniors could go and see them at theMLA office in Bodden Town.

      Only God knows where Mark Scotland and Dwayne Seymour is hiding, because no one in this district see them, and I have never heard them meeting with anyone except the Belford Possey securing votes.

    But I would like to ask the Leader of Government Business if he has any idea where is the representatives for Bodden Town. because it would seem as if we do not have any.

    The social service department in this district is doing the sme old same old thing.  Paying rent, electricity water and food for the young people who can work, and they are not even from Cayman.  But they are letting the elderly suffer in this district.  The premier need to investigate this district needs, because the Social service department is doing absolutely nothing, beside helping who they want to help, frfiends and family while people in this district is suffering even for food.

    The Bodden Town district is a total mess, and someone need to investigate and find out what is going on.

  34. Anonymous says:

    LMAO….I cannot wait for the comments on this one here…Ezzard and Lard…just too funny Wendy!!


    I vote this as "Headline of the Year" actually!!