Cuba Extends Tax-Free Import of Food & Medicines to June 30

Since 2021, the tax exemption for importing food and medicines has been in force / Courtesy

By 14ymedio

HAVANA TIMES – Another extension has been given for the tax-free import of food, toiletries and medicines for non-commercial purposes. The measure is extended this time until June 30, three years since it first entered into force, always on an exceptional and temporary basis. The resolution of the Minister of Finance and Prices is dated March 21, although it was published this Wednesday, and it indicates that the extension of the measure is carried out “taking into account that the limitations in the offers of the products that motivated the exemptions persist in the country.”

The resolution explains that the exemption from the customs tax on medicines, food and toiletries up to a value of 500 dollars or a weight of 50 kilos/110 pounds is applied, when they are brought in as baggage. However, when they are shipped by air, sea or mail, the limit is 200 dollars or 20 kilos/44 pounds.

On the other hand, and this is the only novelty, the limit is increased from 200 to 500 dollars, for products in general that arrive by air, sea or postal route. In addition, the exemption from the customs tax for the first 30 dollars or 3 kilograms/6.6 pounds of excess in the shipment is ratified, while a tariff of 30% is applied for packages of greater value or weight.

Along with this resolution, another one is published that also extends the import of generators, as was already done in December 2023. The text indicates that the measure is extended “taking into account the benefits for the residential sector of the acquisition of generators through shipments, in the face of the contingencies that persist in the national energy system.”

The tax-free import of food and medicines came into force for the first time in July 2021, a few days after the massive protests of ’11J’ and in the midst of a very critical shortage of these products. At that time it was announced that the rule would continue until December 31, but the Government has been forced to extend it on many occasions, with deadlines of between three and six months, since conditions have not only not improved, but continue to worsen.

The delay in this last extension, announced just four days before the previous one expired, had generated all kinds of rumors among the population, who feared the end of the measure.

Two weeks ago, Nelson Cordovés Reyes, director of the General Customs of the Republic, went on State TV’s Round Table program to talk about the challenges that his services face, including the increase in the inflow of drugs and the outflow of money. At that time he revealed that tax exemptions were being used to import products that ended up on the black market and gave as an example a woman who was detected with 57,000 Enalapril pills (a medicine for blood pressure control) and large quantities of soft drinks and bags of fries.

“They say that it’s for other people, and some have also said that it’s for sale. This is a warning, fundamentally, that people should not abuse this measure,” he said. The official argued that the measure was taken so that Cubans could stock up on certain scarce and necessary products and not so some could be enriched by taking advantage of the desperation of others. His call for responsibility suggested that the measure would not be renewed.

Finally, the Government decided to continue three more months with this benefit, a short period in which it is obvious that the problem of shortages will not have been solved.

Translated by Regina Anavy for Translating Cuba

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One thought on “Cuba Extends Tax-Free Import of Food & Medicines to June 30

  • This is a very bad way to do it much better to ship by boat in 40 foot containers

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